My Life, My Race, His Promise, Our Goal

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.                       Matthew 14:22-23 (The Message)

Priorities. Jesus was a busy man. He had twelve guys to train in the ministry, literally thousands of people who were hungry and hurting (legitimate needs!), who were clamoring for Him to help them, and during this particular week, his cousin, John, had just been murdered by the local spineless leader for no other reason than he was telling the truth.

Jesus deals with the immediate priorities in an interesting way. He sends the twelve ministers-in-training out into a boat by themselves instead of doing what they wanted Him to do which was listen to more stories about how they made the demons flee and rallied the local villages to ‘our cause’. The twelve probably thought it was time to talk battle strategies against the guy who had just murdered John. “Come on, Jesus, we’re ready to strike back!” Jesus also dismisses the crowd. Five thousand people had come from their villages to hear Him speak and receive His healing touch without thought or even a plan to eat. They just wanted to be with Him. They wanted to hear His words of life. “Minister to us, Jesus!” Most ministers would be excited to have 5,000 people come to a revival service! Jesus sends them away while He does – what? Make a note of it… he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

Wait for the LORD; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the LORD.           Psalm 27:14 (HCSB)

When will I learn from Elijah that God is in the whisper (1 Kings 19:11-18)? When will I learn from David that God is there even when His hand is heavy on me and I cry rivers of tears on my bed at night(Psalm 6 & 32)? When will I learn from Hosea (chapter 6) that God desires mercy from me and not the sacrifice of thousands of bulls (or thousands of service hours)? When will I ‘be still and know’ that He is God (Psalm 46:10)? When will I see Jesus’ example to dismiss the crowd and spend time alone with my Heavenly Father to talk?

There are no shortcuts to relationships. I cannot spend one hour a week with my husband, Henry, and expect that he will understand my needs and support me. I cannot expect to know God if I hear one twenty minute sermon a week and thank him for His blessings at every meal. Unanswered questions and insight into how God works are priorities in my life because I am at the point in my life where I can identify with the sick woman and Jarius (Luke eight) and the father and son (Luke 9) and Paul (2 Corinthians 12) and his thorn. I have no other options and I will not go back to the way things were in my life. So I must press on and climb up the mountain (meaning I will have to put forth some effort and some sweat!) and spend time alone with the Father and talk. How can I know what goals I can achieve with Him unless I spend time with Jesus on the mountain? Be still. Wait. Listen. Know. It is not an occasional ‘class’ but a daily time with my Friend and Lord.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness [a right relationship] that comes from God and is by faith…

But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith…

Not that I have already reached [the goal] or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.           Philippians 3:7-9, 12-14 (HCSB)

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