I remember our first car – it was a tiny Citroen C3 – it was a horrible gold colour; it was all we could afford and it was tiny.
Looking back on it now, I don’t know how we made it work. It was fine for day-to-day life but the pinch came when we were getting ready to go camping. You know what it’s like – every nook and cranny is filled. We even had a roof rack that ended up looking like another car strapped onto our little C3.
There was one particular time when we had to load up for a two-week camping holiday. We had all our gear laid out, everything we thought we were going to need for the trip to make it a fulfilling, worthwhile and memorable time.
Our eldest was nearly two at the time so we had loads of extra stuff. Equipment and blankets and food – everything we thought we’d need to have a stress free time.
Loading the Car
I then set about packing it all in – like some sort of complex 3D jigsaw puzzle, every space was filled. Like a pro, when I’d finished, there was just enough room for us all to get in – we were ready for the road.
Then came the fateful phrase – a phrase that I’ll not easily forget –
‘Matt, you forgot to put the buggy in’.
I nearly fainted! How could I forget this vital piece of kit, essential hardware for young family life! Naps, walks, a bit of safety at times – we couldn’t get away without it – it would make everything so much harder! But there was no room for it in our already fully laden car. Besides anything, it was an awkward shape; it needed to go in first and then everything else needed to be packed around it.
I was devastated.
So, there was only one thing to do –
Loading the car – again!
I had a cup of tea and a biscuit or two (three) – then I set about unpacking the car and repacking it putting the big important thing in first. The reality is, a couple of things needed to be taken out altogether because there was no longer room for them but, compared to the buggy, they just weren’t as important, they weren’t as vital to what we were trying to do. We didn’t even miss them.
Living Life the Jesus Way
We’re half way through this little video series called ‘Living Life the Jesus Way’. We’re asking;
‘Do we want it to stay the same?’,
thinking about our lives as Christians in the midst of this opportunity to pause and reflect.
We’re using the life of Jesus and asking –
‘How did he live his life?’
What can we learn about why he lived the way he lived, compare it to our lives in this contemporary western context and how we can line the two up?
Our lives are a bit like my old Citroen C3, all packed up and on a journey, where we are hopeful for a fulfilling and worthwhile time. Is the big and important stuff – even if it seems a bit of an awkward fit – in first, with everything else packed in around it?
So, we’ve looked at 3 ways Jesus lived –
1. A Sabbath Rest
Practicing a Sabbath rest where he stopped and delighted in God. We looked at how the Sabbath rest is a gift to mankind, built into the very fabric of creation.
Then we looked at the foundations our lives are built on and how God’s Word – his living, breathing, life giving word – is the surest solid ground on which to build our lives.
Last time, we looked at how we were built for relationship with God and how Jesus withdrew to a quiet place to simply be with his father – but we also recognised that, with so much vying for our attention in modern society – how that’s often difficult to do.
Each of these videos has been designed to unpack
- WHY these things are so important,
- WHY Jesus did them and
- WHY they are so worthwhile and life giving.
That means they have been ‘light’ on HOW we apply them now – we can’t practice them exactly as Jesus did because life looks so much different.
What’s more, each of our lives looks different to each other’s! So there’s no one size fits all approach.
having said that, there is an opportunity for us to each think, reflect and try out different ways to practice them;
To live life the Jesus way here and now.
What is packed into your life?
I guess the first question to ask is ‘what is packed into your life at the moment that maybe needs to come out?’
That may be completely out and gone, or – when it goes back in – it is in a more fulfilling and worthwhile way.
Maybe it’s a good thing but there’s just too much of it so it dominates and distracts from the really important, life giving ways we connect with God and grow in faith. A car full of snacks for the road sounds great but it won’t ultimately make for a worthwhile and fulfilling journey.
Packing the Important Stuff First
Then the second question is, ‘how do you pack in the important stuff first?’ How do you put the buggy in, so you can pack other stuff around it?
Packing in the sabbath
For the Sabbath, how can you take the principle of stopping and delighting into your current working pattern?
Take a look at your working week and block out some time and, if you can, a full 24 hours. Set the time aside where you don’t do any labour, instead, you stop and delight and enjoy.
But don’t think, ‘what am I allowed to do’ and ‘NOT allowed to do’? That leads to legalism.
- ‘what reenergises me?’
- ‘How do I enjoy God and his creation and his people?’
For me, it’s completely switching off from all communication, news and social media for 24 hours. We try to avoid going shopping or even cooking that day. We try to get out and take our time on a walk to really enjoy God’s creation. But we’re still learning – we’re developing it.
We’d love to spend more time worshiping as a family and other things besides, we have by no means hit it but if the bible is to be believed, we will become more fruitful and rested if we take God’s gift of the sabbath seriously.
Building your life on Gods Word
For building your life on God’s Word – it’s helpful to think and reflect on how you use God’s word at the moment.
- Do you take it seriously?
- Do you snack on it and feast on it?
- Do you dip in and out of it looking for short verses that may just keep you going and do you take in the breadth of the whole story?
- What questions do you have and how can you find the answers?
It’s really important to not over burden yourself – the expectation isn’t that you become a bible scholar! – in fact, the role of ‘teachers’ in the church involves them helping you to understand and apply God’s word.
I love having conversations with many of you as you wrestle with God’s word and I love pointing people to books, videos and other resources to help them.
What next step could you take to go deeper in God’s word and to build your life on that solid foundation?
Being Still Before Him
Then there’s being still before him.
This simply takes practice. Take small steps. Maybe set a little time aside every day. You may well need to get up earlier like Jesus did, or EVEN drop an episode of Netflix.
Whatever it takes!
Maybe then, less often set aside an evening or even a whole day to put away distractions and presence yourself to God. Bring your bible and a note book so you can jot down thoughts that come into your mind as you focus that time on God and you hear from him.
We’ve found John Mark Comer’s new book, ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ so SO helpful. It was the starting point for this video series, I’d highly recommend it and you can get it on either book or audio format.
We’d love to keep this discussion going, it’s such a great opportunity to stand back and look at how your life is packed. Maybe it would help to chat with someone else; we’re here to support one another after all! We’d love to hear some of your ideas and some stories of different things you try out. Warts and all, we’d love to hear your wins AND your struggles.
Many, if we’re honest, have realised that the car is packed with stuff we don’t necessarily need for the journey.
Maybe it’s dawned on you that you’re missing some of the big, life giving things – the buggy if you like – so, what do you need to do to put them in first?
What steps do YOU need to take so you can pack everything else around them; what does it look like to “live life the Jesus way” right here and now?