At The Feet of Jesus

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  -Luke 10:38-42

 

Located on the highest cliff of Ona, a tiny island in Norway, you’ll find this beautiful ruby red beacon known as the Ona Lighthouse. Built in 1867, it stands 48 ft. tall and overlooks a small village of no more than 25-30 inhabitants. At the foot of this tower, you’ll find a cluster of brightly colored wooden houses that help create an indisputable peaceful and tranquil scene.

When I contemplate the serenity depicted in this image it almost seems as if the houses are gathered attentively around the lighthouse waiting for its light to shine; the light that will reassure them that they will be kept safe from the dangers of misguided nocturnal sea vessels. Then, I am instantly reminded of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.

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Like Martha, we have all experienced the pressures of the daily cares of life. The demands of school, work, church, and family will occasionally gobble up most of our time and attention.1 Book reports due, projects to complete, lessons to prepare, house to clean and baseball practices to attend. No doubt that these responsibilities constitute an important part of our lives. However, they can become detrimental to our overall well-being if we allow them to overwhelm us and overshadow the more important things, like physical and spiritual disciplines and quality family time. But the truth is that most of us already know this. We have been convicted of it many times before. We’ve felt guilty about it and we’ve told ourselves that it’s time to make a change, but unconsciously we get sucked back into the routine of meeting deadlines, giving in to our OCDs and thinking that the world will collapse if we stop (even if just for a moment) to sit down and catch our breath.

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Like Mary, we all need to take a break and sit at the feet of Jesus every now and then. No, I don’t mean sitting in a church pew, or even behind a computer or phone screen scrolling through inspirational quotes and devotions. I’m not even referring to a routine devotional time. Even when doing these things we sometimes miss what God is trying to tell us simply because we are either on a time schedule, fulfilling another duty, just “kicking off our shoes” or simply going through the motions. What I mean is that we have to take the time to get away and wholeheartedly immerse ourselves in His grace [Read Escaping Not “From” But “Into]. Time to intentionally contemplate and appreciate His handiwork; the earth, the heavens, and the intricacies of the human body [Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Designed]. Time to deeply reflect on how the stripes that were on His body have completely healed us from the ill-effects of sin.2 (Quite frankly, we should be doing this one more regularly instead of once a year during the “holy week.”) And we should also take time to just sit down quietly and give Him our undivided attention. Perhaps this is the only time He has to tell us how much we truly mean to Him. This doesn’t mean that we carelessly ignore our responsibilities as Martha thought Mary was doing. There has to be a balance between work and leisure in order for us to be effective and productive as Christians and as citizens in general. The key to obtaining this balance is discerning, like Mary, when it’s time to pursue “what is better.” In other words, we should know when it’s time to put the book down, take our hand off the mouse, or turn off the vacuum cleaner and take care of what is more important. Maybe it’s time to redo our priority list.  

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To manage life properly we need order, direction, encouragement, and support. God provides all of these through His word, sermons, blogs, songs, and through godly counsel. But He also accomplishes it through the gentle whisper of an undisturbed quiet time at the feet of Jesus.

There are two other interesting facts about Ona that serve as an excellent Gospel analogy. The relatively small island has been populated for centuries because of its proximity to the fishing expanse close to the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, fishing has traditionally been the only source of income for its inhabitants. However, the island has recently attracted a few pottery makers who have also made little Ona their home.

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This reminds me that at the feet of Jesus, we can also find the motivation and passion we need to become effective fishers of men.3 Every heartbeat of our Savior has a name; the name of every soul who is yet to be saved. If we listen closely we’ll hear their cry and be encouraged to reach out to them with the Gospel.

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At the feet of the Master Potter, 4 we also learn how we can help Him mold the clay He has placed on the wheel by following the Great commission and making fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.5

I am not sure about you, but I am ready to spend some time at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He’s been trying to tell me. How about you? 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there is no other place I rather be than at your feet. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life quicken me to stop and listen to what you have to say. Thank you for the privilege of being able to be in your presence and listen to your heartbeat; the heartbeat for a lost and dying world to which you have called me to shine the light of your Gospel. I pray this in you precious name, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
1- “…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  – Mark 4:19
2- “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaih 53:5
3- “And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
4- “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand..” – Isaiah 64:8
5- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:19-20
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

Brokenness Brings Strength

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – The Apostle Peter

What do storms, earthquakes, wars, erosion and rotten wood have in common? For one, they have been the leading cause for the reconstruction and/or relocation of many lighthouses throughout the world. In the early years of lighthouses, people used whatever materials were available locally to build them: wood, brick, and stone. And while these life-saving towers were successful in warning and guiding mariners to safety, they only lasted until their next big battle against man or nature. Many of them had to be rebuilt more than once, but with the advancements in technology and engineering not only where they made stronger but lasted a lot longer. A few of these “saviors of the seacoast” are still standing. Some for more than 200 years!

Located on Little Brewster Island in Massachusetts, the Boston Light (pictured above) is the first of American lighthouses. Originally built in 1716, the tower is older than the republic itself. It is one of the many lighthouses to overcome several calamities and still stand tall and strong. The tower first suffered its major disaster in 1775 when Minutemen set fire to it in retaliation against a British blockade. Although it was quickly repaired, the tower was destroyed by gunpowder the following year.

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C. early 1780s, from a painting by Capt. Matthew Parke. This image apparently depicts the original tower before its 1776 destruction.

The present tower was rebuilt in 1783 to its original height of 75 ft. and in 1856 it was raised another 23 ft. One can only imagine the punishment that this and other lighthouses have faced given their location. Exposed not only to inclement weather and the elements of the sea but to intentional damage as well, they have truly endured the test of time. Many of them, like the Boston Light, have undergone a series of renovations and restorations to fortify their structure and preserve them for posterity. Today, Boston Light and many others are still standing and shining their light as a symbol of perseverance, strength, and commitment.

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Imagine giving up on a project simply because it initially broke down. If that was the norm, we wouldn’t have the vacuum cleaner, the automobile, the light bulb, the airplane, or even the life-saving sentinel of the sea a.k.a. the lighthouse. Failure and brokenness are inevitable in life. And while they may normally be regarded as setbacks, they are actually the first step to success. Plus, they grant the opportunity to start over again more intelligently. Failures have inspired the greatest inventions. Brokenness has helped build the strongest of armies.

Perfection can only be found in God. And while He created man in His image and likeness (the ability to commune with God, to reason, and to choose) sin put a spiritual wedge between man and His Creator. It broke the perfect fellowship/intimacy that they once enjoyed before the fall. Hence why Jesus came.

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The brokenness caused by original sin can be immediately repaired through repentance and the acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. However, because we are still in a mortal body and are part of a fallen world we have yet to experience the fullness of that redemption; the day when all sin is eradicated forever.  Until then, we will face many battles with temptation, sickness, the consequences of disobeying God, and even persecution.

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Like the many lighthouses that fell apart due to the forces of nature, there will be times when we too will be broken by life’s adversities. But, we can also be restored and emerge stronger than before. Through His word and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, God can rebuild that which has been broken by trials and by sins (of commission and omission). And that which God himself repairs will stand exceedingly greater than that which stood before it was broken. Therefore, the most distressing brokenness we can ever experience can actually help us become significantly stronger in character and in faith.

The key to remain standing in the midst of our brokenness is to keep in mind who we are and what our calling is in Christ. Jesus said, “You ARE the light of the world.” In spite of the storms of discouragement, wars of opposition, earthquakes of fear, erosions of uncertainty, and all other challenges we may face in life, we ought to continue shining as lighthouses for God.

When our foundation is built on the Rock (Jesus) He is the melody in times of peace, the anchor in the midst of the storm, and the mender when we are broken. His restorative touch not only rebuilds our faith but increases our resolve to persevere. So, keep your eyes on Jesus, trust His word, depend on His faithfulness, and remember that He can use brokenness to bring strength; strength that can serve as an encouragement to others who are broken. 

Prayer: Mender of the broken, Healer of my soul, I call upon you today and ask that you touch me. Strengthen me in the hour of my need so that I may continue to shine brightly for your glory. In the midst of my brokenness I will praise you and know that once I am restored I will be stronger than ever before. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray, amen. 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” -1 Pet. 5:10
“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3
“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord…” -Jeremiah 30:17 (ESV)
“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” -Job 42:10, ESV
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” -Zachariah 13:9 (NLT)
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the authenticity of your faith — more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:6-7 (BSB)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

1 Year Anniversary. Thank you!

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Today, April 6, 2017, marks one year of publishing Lighthouse Devotions on WordPress. A big “THANK YOU” to all my followers and those who have read, commented on, and shared my posts. I’ve been greatly blessed with the privilege of writing 58 lighthouse inspired devotions this past year. I am looking forward to writing many more and publishing a devotions book in the near future. Let us keep shining the light of Jesus!