Wednesday, November 5, 2008


After two weeks of nursing a bad cold and wading through materials collected during a recent library binge, I am returning to a regular work schedule--with the typical lack of enthusiasm that strikes when you realize things kept piling up while your back was turned. It's times like this that make a person sympathize with Peter's desire to build a permanent shelter on the mountain of worship (Mt. 17:4). Most of us will, at times, absorb ourselves in anything handy rather than face up to the more difficult things we know we should be doing.

While purely selfish "shelters"--pleasure, materialism, a "let them look out for themselves" attitude toward others--are fairly easy to spot, perhaps the more dangerous shelters are those that at first glance seem like superior choices. Who can fault hard work, or a life dedicated to prayer and worship? Yet even the most godly disciplines can be perverted into means of avoiding God Himself. Jesus had some hard words for people who become obsessed with the more nit-picking details of religiosity at the expense of developing overall godly attitudes (see Mt. 23). These were the same people who looked down on their Messiah for getting His hands dirty attending to human needs (cf. Luke 5:29-32).

Which example are we following?

We all would build our shelters
And huddle deep within,
Safe from the pain and sorrows
That plague this world of sin:
Some hide in drink or leisure,
And some in daily toil,
And some will live as hermits
Far from the town's mad boil.

And some build pious shelters:
They hide away in prayer
And hours of meditation--
"Our God is with us there."
But do they ever listen
To hear the Lord's command:
"The world I love is dying;
Go, take Me through the land"?

Our Master was a preacher
Who walked within the crowd;
He never feared the tumult,
However great and loud;
Though He spent hours in praying,
He always rose to go
To where the world was hurting,
And met with love its woe.

If we would be His followers,
We must not turn away
And hide within our shelters:
The world has needs today.
And if they mock or bruise us,
Remember all His pain--
Keep following in His footsteps,
And find in loss great gain!

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