Jesus’ words to his disciples in Mark 6:31 after they returned from an intense season of ministry held significant meaning for me at the end of last week. I was able to join my family for a few days at Emerald Isle (close to Atlantic Beach). Our house was beachfront. The beach was almost deserted. It was amazing to wake up later than 6:00 every morning, look out the window, and see the ocean almost at our doorstep.
Thursday night was one of the coolest times in recent memory for me. I grabbed a Don Tomas cigar, lit it, and walked down to the beach in the dark. To the east and west, the lights of the beach communities overwhelmed the horizon. But to the south over the ocean (Emerald Isle faces south instead of east), it was pitch black, moonless, and cloudless.
I haven’t seen the Milky Way in years. I just stood there staring at it and chuckled at how the God of the universe, who spoke everything into existence, who created the billions upon billions of stars in the universe, for some reason thinks of me (and every other person on our little speck of rock called Earth). The stars, the sound of the waves, the feel of sand between my toes, and the spicy flavor of a multi-national cigar just blew me away at how big, powerful, and brilliant God is.
And that’s just from nature, much less what’s been revealed through the Bible.
I’ve struggled recently with my Bible reading. I got back into it at the beach. I decided to start at the beginning and read it straight through. I haven’t done that in years. I sometimes overthink my approach to scripture, looking for that perfect book to read through or that perfect chunk of scripture. It’s all perfect, it’s all relevant. Sure, there are sections that I’m going to spend a little more time in (John for our simple church, 1 John for my next book), but for my personal time, I’m starting at the beginning.
I also realized (that’s a terrible word; it doesn’t convey the right idea) in a bigger way how important my family is to me. I have the greatest wife in the world and my daughters are amazing (even when they’re trying to tear each other’s hair out).
I also have a greater appreciation for my work, both what I get paid to do and what I don’t. Church planting and disciple making are so utterly important, and when you get away for a few days your urgency level spikes. Being a hospice chaplain makes me appreciate my health as well as realize my own mortality. Many of my patients loved the beach. They’ll never see it again. I take more time to live in the moment, but with an eternal perspective.
Who knew that going away to a secluded place to rest a while could do so much?
Oh, I also read Neil Cole’s “Organic Leadership.” One of the most relevant books outside of Scripture I’ve ever read. I’ll review it later this week.