This last year was rough for many reasons. I dealt with much heartache and personal turmoil while the world just outside my door was screaming injustice, disease, and pain.
From a pandemic to political unrest and everything in between, this year has allowed ample opportunity to give opinions, get mad and live in perpetual fear and anxiety. And with so many voices talking all at once, the sound has become deafening to me. Several times this past year, I’ve felt I should be “doing something” about each new topic that sprouts up. Shouldn’t I be taking a side and ranting, whether on the street corner or online?
We’re living in an age that is drowning us in information, demanding change, while leaving us feeling confused, disillusioned, and helpless.
Changing the world is a big task, after all.
No wonder so many of us are hitting burnout, feeling guilty, and just plain exhausted; we’re carrying the weight of changing a broken world on our tiny, insignificant shoulders.
Stepping away before you step in
In the uncertainty, I’ve gone back to rereading the life of Jesus. I’m quietly following him down side streets where lepers beg, pausing at wells to give life to those seeking a drink and strolling over sandy beaches while fishermen gather their catch of the day. I long to observe how he did life and how he responded to a world gone mad.
Amid all the people and opinions, Jesus stepped away from crowds and his work to spend time alone with his father.
He lived a short 33 years, yet I don’t find that he ran at a feverish pace. I see Him often removing himself from people entirely and slowing down. Isn’t this counterintuitive to the very reason he came to this Earth? Shouldn’t he have been running at a breakneck speed to fix everything and change the world?
He stepped away to gain strength before He stepped back in.
Jesus did what He could right where He was.
He was God—He is God—and He went at a sustainable pace to a human.
His quiet moments would seem foolish now because, by today’s standards, it seems the louder and more outspoken you are, the more you’re doing.
However, Jesus knew that time spent with His father was the very fuel He needed to face the onslaught of human hurt that engulfed Him daily.
With this truth, I must ask myself before I respond to anything or anyone; How can I expect to change anything if my soul has not spent time with the changer of hearts?
It is only His truth and His spirit that can change the world.
He could’ve changed the world in an instant. And ultimately, He did, just not how everyone wanted or expected him to. He died to change the world.
I can’t help but think, what if our dying to the constant upheaval and trendy social injustice of the day means living to the Word that should be our very breath? What if our laying down of signs and opinions means picking up the lifeblood we need to be the actual change in the world?
Friend, giving your opinion is not going to change the world.
Is this a massive ego inflate or what?
Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed, even more; he knew who was going to betray him, and yet he continued with him near. Jesus knew His time was short. The life He lived was a mere fraction of what others are granted. And his real ministry didn’t even start until about three years before he died.
Shouldn’t he have been frantic to “be about his father’s business” even more?
He never ran—as far as we see— and He never went at some ridiculous speed that was super-human. He walked, rode a donkey rather than a racehorse, and took his time with the people nearest Him.
With every injustice screaming to be solved, we easily forget our focus is better directed to one place and one purpose. Our feet are touching the spot where we are supposed to make a change at any given moment.
Where is your focus and purpose meant to be?
To change the world around us, we must begin work inside us by sitting at Jesus’ feet. Humbling ourselves is where the actual change in the world will begin.
Our souls need God’s word and the filling up of the Spirit that dwells within us. When He tells us that we can do nothing apart from him, it’s not a suggestion; it is a warning to be taken very seriously. Confusion, burnout, indifference, guilt, anger, and any other myriad of destructive emotions happen because we have taken on too much. We often feel that the weight of the worlds problems are ours to solve. Simply put, they are not.
I have found in my own experience that anxiety and fear come from forgetting that I am not in charge. He is.
Our God of the universe cloaked Himself in humility and limited his activity even while the state of the world hung in the balance. Who are we to do more?
It’s tempting to get caught up in the whirlwind of social media and the mentality that everyone needs to know where I stand on every topic, from vaccines to racial inequality. When in reality, there are things I have no business chiming in on—whether it’s my lack of knowledge or the overabundance of noise—sometimes silence is the best answer.
Our fight is, and always will be, primarily a fight of the heart.
Our battle is first and foremost to stand firm in the faith that we have through our savior, Jesus.
There is nothing wrong with us wanting to make a difference or desperately seeking a righteous resolution in a wicked world. But as believers in Jesus, we have the perfect picture of where our limitations lie and how to embrace them.
I’ve decided that perhaps putting down my sign and opinions in favor of picking up my Bible is the best answer in response to the current state of the world.
Sitting and soaking up his word while worshiping at His feet will seem a foolish thing to many. Spending quality time feeding my spirit rather than fretting over the current news story is not time wasted. And choosing not to fight viciously on social media in favor of spending a few hours with those I love is always a better choice.
There will be time enough for fighting the good fight. We know that. We can see the plan is in place, and any Jesus follower should know: this world is not headed to utopia any time soon.
Step away to Jesus before you step in the fight
It’s rock-solid truth that Jesus Himself explained when He said that in this world, we would have trouble. The follow-up to that truth is the prize we’ve been looking for all along;
In me you have peace…take heart, I have overcome the world! John 16:33
In the world, we have trouble. Heaps of trouble. But in Him, we have peace. All of the peace we will ever possibly need.
When we are told to pick a side and stand in line, there is truly only one place we should be standing; on the solid foundation of God’s word. It is the only place we will find answers and peace to make any difference: His word, His truth, His story, and His purpose.
When we must pick a side, pick His side. That is where we will win every time.
If you are at a loss for words and don’t know how to respond to the state of our world, then don’t. Retreat instead. The world needs our gentle spirit more than ever and the quietness of the Holy Spirit. Seek the giver of life, his guidance, and remember that all good things come from the Vine.
Spending our precious little time in quiet prayer and worship will not be wasted. It steadies your soul, and your emotions are put back in balance when you give yourself over to Him rather than the latest disaster.
Sit with your Father today, Christian, for tomorrow there is sure to be more turmoil to weigh in on.
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,
M @ In Beautiful Chaos says
So true! I love how you said “He could’ve changed the world in an instant. And ultimately, He did, just not how everyone wanted or expected him to.”
Reminds me of the line in the Hillsong Worship song “Seasons”: “For all I know of seasons/Is that You take Your time/You could have saved us in a second/Instead You sent a child…”
His timing is almost NEVER our timing!
Susan McIlmoil says
Isn’t this the truth! It’s so hard for us to comprehend why he chooses to do things when he does but it’s trusting his character and understanding He has a purpose in it all. I’m trying to lean into these truths more and more.
Maree Dee says
I loved your sweet reminder. Thank you. I am exhausted and find it so hard to step back. You reminded me Jesus did.
I, too, have been spending time learning and watching Jesus through a study of Mark. My heart has been touched by the man Jesus was while on earth. I saw his humanness in a new way. Gosh, he really understands our feeling and emotions.
Susan McIlmoil says
It’s so nice to see you here, Maree! And yes, it’s been quite a road this year for me to learn to be quiet with Jesus rather than shouting at the world.
Carrie Vandervort says
This is a beautiful reminder for me, Susan!! Daily, I typically (unconsciously) try to take on a loved one’s struggles as my own and it’s very wearying. So much to care about these days! But I must also focus on what my goal is, and that is to become more like Jesus every day. And Jesus didn’t frantically run around helping, or even worry about how He should/could/would help others. He continually strengthened Himself in God’s presence.
Susan McIlmoil says
So true, Carrie, and I’m so glad this was encouraging to you! I’ve been thinking so much about all of the agendas and topics of concern in the world and fretting over where I should stand and how to answer. It’s occurred to me that I don’t have to take a stand on everything. I simply need to sit with Jesus and fill up on his truth. It’s been truly freeing for me. Not to say I don’t have strong opinions or moral obligations on certain matters (or helping loved ones as you mentioned) but I know my limits and know where I must go for strength!