This past weekend we were at the beach and a lady was hovering around us taking photos…not of us…we are not that interesting…but definitely of something. Now, I didn’t know what she was doing or taking photos of, but she was obviously very interested in something. So we asked, and she excitedly came over and said she was taking photos of a bird. Well, I am not a birder, I love that other people love that…it just isn’t my thing…but out of curiosity we asked, what bird?
She went on to tell us, it’s the Gray Gull. It is a bird that lives in South America and has never been seen before this far north and suddenly it showed up on our beaches in Santa Rosa Beach. The way she heard about it, was their were bird photographers up and down the beaches looking for this bird. They traveled great distances, with expensive equipment, researching latest spotting, wandering up and down the emerald coast to see this wonder that is unheard of in these parts.
And there I was, sitting literally right in front of the Gray Gull and had no idea until someone pointed it out.
Isn’t it crazy that some people will go to incredible lengths to experience something and yet all the while, many of us have no idea it is special at all.
We all have those things we care about. Some famous or influential person in our area of interest, some unique collectible, some rare item or experience that in our passions we will go to the ends of the earth to encounter, to learn from, to say we have experienced…and other people have no interest at all. It doesn’t mean anything to them…mostly because they don’t know or they’ve taken it for granted.
Years ago I was at the Panama City Airport trying to get back to Dallas. I was a worship leader for a youth ministry at the time and there was a terrible storm that was delaying all the flights. I was sitting there by myself, when suddenly I see all these people taking photos with this person. Now, I looked up, didn’t recognize the person, so I got back to reading my book, hoping to get back home. After about 30 minutes or more of all of the people hovering over this person, I thought, “golly, this guy must be famous.” Since I didn’t know how long I was going to be waiting, I decided to get something to eat. I was standing in line and suddenly I realize that same guy gets behind me in line. I decide to turn around casually so not to make a big deal about it…and I look and it’s Chris Tomlin. Now, if you aren’t a contemporary worship person, you may not know who that is, but Chris has been one of the most successful contemporary worship leaders and singer songwriters of the past 25 years or so. I have been to events he was leading at, I’ve read his books, I’ve been singing and leading his songs since the late 90’s, and I was even leading the songs that he wrote that week in Florida on a mission trip with my students. I knew this guy, what he’d done, and benefited from him and his work…but unless someone would have pointed him out, unless I was right next to him, I may not have realized. So, I awkwardly turned around and told him thanks for what he’d done, written, that I had benefited from his work and that was it.
I sometimes wonder, do we miss something that is great, that is right in front of us…or behind us in line, because we just don’t know. We have no idea that there is a rare bird right in front of us…because no one has opened our eyes to this. We have no idea that someone that influenced our life and calling was waiting behind us in the same line until we turned to see.
Yesterday at The Chapel, we stepped into looking at the idea of sabbath. We talked about how at its core, sabbath means to stop. We traced the root from the creation story in Genesis, to the feeding of the Hebrew people in the wilderness in Exodus, through the commandments in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and finished looking at Jesus practicing it as well. We talked about how this is not something we are still commanded to do in the New Testament and yet, it is a gift, a blessing, and a wise opportunity to experience that will bless us and help us to live in a rhythm that reflects the life of Jesus.
Sabbath feels a bit like that Gray Gull. Before I realized what a rare thing it is for people to stop, before I realized that people went to great lengths to stop, before I realized it is not seen in our part of the world to stop, I didn’t think much about it. Stopping, like that bird, was not on my radar. And then over the past several years my eyes have been shown the value and beauty of stopping. Now for about a year, my family has been faithfully trying to stop every week. We now go to great lengths to practice sabbath. I don’t think it saves me, or I am earning some sort of favor…I know I see the value in it, I am blessed by it, and I get to experience something most people just pass on by.
We can also be so close to something that we really love and appreciate, but until others help us realize it, we never turn around to encounter it. We miss it.
Jesus calls himself Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus takes time to stop and escape the pressures of life and ministry.
Jesus pulls away to connect with the Father.
We can love and appreciate Jesus, but until we see that those aspects of him seem to be important, that maybe we should encounter them as well…we may just miss it was right there for us the whole time.
No matter if you were at worship or not, I invite you to continue to wrestle with the idea of Sabbath and taking those steps to stop and live out this life giving practice of Jesus in your life on a regular basis. You can go to our webpage, thechapelatseaside.com/sabbath to get lots of additional resources; book recommendations, additional teachings, podcast follow ups, discussions guides, next steps to live out this life giving discipline, and more.
There are people who around the world are so desperate for Jesus and his way of life…but don’t know or can’t articulate it. We have the knowledge, privilege and opportunity to not only know it, but follow in his ways and experience the blessings that come from it. We just have to realize it is right in front of us…do we see it and know that it matters?
It’s important to note, all of this, is turning us to be more like Jesus…it is spiritually forming us, discipling us, helping us to embody his ways…but it only matters, if we are people who trust in him, to see him as the way, the truth, and the life.
If not, these are just empty life hacks.
Jesus is not an influencer with tips and tricks.
He is the Word made flesh.
He is God the son.
When we see Jesus is our God and friend, our savior and teacher, our redeemer and rabbi, we see his ways lead to life.
When we turn to him and his ways we find the rest that we need. That starts with us knowing how to stop. Let’s become people who stop, who sabbath, and who find the ways of Jesus that run counter to the ways of the world are actually the narrow way that lead to life.
I hope you will join us again this coming Sunday as we continue in our sabbath experiment. My dear friend, fellow pastor, and previous Chapel preacher, Rev. Matt Tuggle will be with us again. Sarah and I will still be here as well.
Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll see you Sunday.
A few things.
- Our Wednesday Morning Bible Studies are currently underway. Men meet at 8:30am and Women meet at 10am at The Chapel. We are journeying through the Gospel according to Matthew. If you aren’t getting our communication for our studies, join the men’s group here and the women’s group here.
- We offer a Young Adult/20’s and 30’s Bible Study on Thursday mornings at 8am that is currently meeting. They WILL NOT BE MEETING THIS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5th, but will be back next week. Join us at The Chapel upstairs and we’re studying the book of Genesis together. If you are interested in our Young Adult group, please click here to get connected.Let us know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing you soon.