Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pursuing the Withdrawing Lord (Matthew 14:13-21)

In order to withdraw and deal with his own pain, Jesus left his ministry to the masses. However, "when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns." The crowds were in such need of Jesus that, even when he withdrew his presence, they chased him. As he traveled by boat to a desolate place, the crowds beat him there on foot around the shore of the lake. What did the crowds hear that motivated them to follow? Did they hear about Jesus' reaction to John's death? Were they trying to comfort their leader? Or did they simply want more of his presence and touch? Regardless, they would not be deterred when the presence of God withdrew. They did not stand around and bemoan the lack of God's touch - they chased him!

"When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick." Jesus was moved by the pursuing crowd. Like the judge with the persistent widow or the sleeping tenant with his midnight visitor, Jesus responded to tenacity.

There are seasons in the Christian life where the presence and activity of God are almost tangible. However, there are seasons in between these experiences when God seems all but absent - if it weren't for his promise that he would never leave or forsake us, we would be certain he was an absentee landlord or distant clockmaker! When Jesus withdrew, he did not do so because he was tired of the crowd, displeased with the people or unconcerned with the details of their lives. In our seasons when God seems distant, we tend to interpret his aloofness in many ways, and rightly so! We must take inventory of our lives when the Spirit doesn't seem to be moving. However, there are times that God withdraws and, like a father playing Hide-and-Seek with his children, he longs to be chased after and found. He is not playing a divine version of "hard to get," but he does at times withdraw so that his children will exercise their spiritual muscles and chase him.

Jesus, help me to pursue you in the times when you feel distant. Help me to meet you where you are going.

Matthew 14:13-21
Luke 18:1-8
Luke 11:5-10

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