Do you ever notice that we are often so busy working “In it” that we don’t work on it?  We are so busy running our department and keeping our jobs and heads above water, we don’t have or make the time to step back, slow down and work on it. The tyranny of the urgent keeps us from stopping long enough to look around and see where we are going.

Ever noticed how many relational conflicts occur because we are so busy juggling, balancing, and keeping things from falling that we don’t see where we are going.   We are so busy working “in our relationships” that we don’t work “on” our relationships.

Steven Covey notes that in life, we are so busy chopping wood, we can’t and don’t take time to stop, slow down, and sharpen the axe.

We Are So Busy Working In It, We Don’t Work On It.

We Are So Busy Living In It, We Don’t Reflect On It.

Let’s look at:
1)  Why We Need to Reflect On It;
2)  Why Jesus Needed to Reflect On It; and
3)  How We Can Reflect On It.

I.  Why We Need to Reflect On It

Today’s challenge is about REST, SILENCE, and SOLITUDE.   In short, this is the discipline of Slowing.  The discipline of pulling yourself away from the hustle and bustle of life’s demands to refuel, reflect, and “work on it.”

I grew up in Illinois, the land of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was known as a slow reader. He often spoke of how slowly he absorbed information.  He — as an adult — read out loud and laboriously.  His law partner and biographer William Herndon said, “Lincoln read less and thought more than any man in his sphere in America.”   Lincoln reflected on it. Lincoln took the time to work on it.

Lewis Grant has a little test for us to see if we need some new habits. In writing on what he calls Sunset Fatigue, he notes that we may be in Sunset Fatigue if: 1) You find yourself rushing when there is no reason to;  2) There is underlying tension that causes sharp words and sibling quarrels; 3) You set up mock races (OK kids, let’s see who can get to bed quicker); 4) You sense a loss of gratitude and wonder;  5) You indulge in self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, pornography, too much TV, etc.).

We all love to run hard. I love the feeling of getting lots of stuff done. I like getting more done than others thought possible. I love efficiency. I love productivity.  I love working IN it.  I learned years ago that I do my best work, if I make myself work on it.  My messages are the best when I think about them for 6-9 weeks before I deliver them.   I usually take a week several times a year to not work on THIS WEEK’s message which is “breathing down my neck” but to WORK ON IT, and think about the messages for the next 6 months, or the next year’s strategic plans.  I never “feel” like slowing down. I never have “extra” time in my schedule.  But every time I slow down to reflect, pull away and get some solitude to work on it…my mind clears, my soul opens up, and my creative energies fire up.  My working in it is better when I work on it.   The challenge today is about God, our heavenly Father, saying SLOW DOWN.  Put some margin in your life.  Put some silence and reflection and rest in your life.  SLOW DOWN and work on it.

My son Quinn loves to run. He is two and has only one speed, fast. Because he is partially blind, he can’t see well beyond 3 feet.   One day, he and I were out on the terrace, and he started running.  As he took off, he headed toward the steps.   His eyesight didn’t allow him to see the 6 inch drop from one step to the next. I started yelling, “Quinn, slow down. Stop!”  He ran faster assuming I was trying to stop his fun and take away the joy of the run.  I tried to catch him, but he was too far ahead of me.  He took that “step into mid air” and landed face first sliding his face along the concrete…. OUCH!  I scooped him up as he cried.  He thought my call to slow down was going to hurt the fun but it was actually going to help him from experiencing pain.

II. Why Jesus Needed To Reflect On It.

If you ever read the Bible, you’ll discover a high performance, highly productive, world changing leader in Jesus Christ. He implemented a strategic plan over three years that lasted for over 2,000 years.   Wherever Jesus went, there were to-do lists, there were crowds, and there were demands. Jesus was working “in it” all the time.   Let me take a moment to give you a snapshot of a particularly difficult day where Jesus was working in it.

A) Jesus is working in it Emotionally.

Jesus gets terrible news this day. His cousin John, a friend and ministry partner, had been brutally killed and beheaded by the tyrant King Herod.

27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison… 30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things

Jesus is crushed. We can only imagine this conversation between the apostles and Jesus delivering the terrible news. As Jesus is taking in the pain and difficulty, he is surrounded with the crowd demanding his attention.  But Jesus knows that his soul needs some solitude, some silence, some rest.  So he turns to the disciples and says, “Let’s get away and work on it.”

“Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

This passage sounds like us today. Many were “coming and going” and were so busy they did not “even have time to eat.”  That’s us, isn’t it?  We are so busy working in it, we neglect our health, our soul, and our need to reflect.  Jesus comes to us and says, “Come aside…let’s get away to a deserted place.”  We need to reflect on the pain in our soul. Reflect on the injustice we’ve just witnessed. We need to refuel before launching into another season of giving.  Jesus calls you and I to come “work on it” by getting away from “working in it.” Just as Jesus gets to a place to reflect, get away, and have some silence…

2) Jesus is “working in it” Relationally.

33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled.

Jesus gets to a place to have some solitude and immediately, the crowd has outrun him to the other side of the sea.  They are needy. They are hungry. They want him to teach, to heal, and to feed them.   In other words, Jesus is surrounded with people. He is “working in it” relationally.  All of us have relational demands. Our boss. Our co-workers. Our teenagers. Our friends.  Our parents. Our supplies. Our clients.   Some need us to “heal them.”  Some need us to “teach them.”  Others want us to “feed them.”  And it’s a real joy… until it isn’t.  There comes a time when we begin to resent the people we are helping, don’t we?   We are so busy working in it relationally, we begin to resent the very people we are helping.  Notice again that Jesus realizes that he must pull away…so, he “immediately…does what?”

45 Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.

Jesus is making his disciples do something.   He is Sending people away.       This reminds me that solitude, rest, silence, reflection are not things that we do naturally. We must “make ourselves” do it.  We must “send” away other important priorities.  Good things need to be send away so we can refuel the tanks.


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