Recently, I sat on a porch with five young women as I lead us in a retreat to really retreat. You know, to get away and be refreshed, not just to get away only to return home more tired than when you left. No, not that kind of retreat. I wanted the time to pour into us, so we can pour out in life. But what should we talk about or reflect on?
What would Jesus say?
We are inundated with information and messages– even lots of good Christian information, podcasts, posts, images, books, etc. It can be a sort of unending buffet that leaves us stuffed and full. There is no more room! Much of it comes and then goes. If you are around long enough, you soon discover there is always something new, or a new way of saying it. Different and fresh is often what is “in.”
I kind of want things right now that are timeless, always in and fit for all occasions and circumstances of life. “What would Jesus actually say?”
What are your “go to’s” that keep you afloat in your spiritual life? As you feel the discontent or criticism creeping in, what do you tell yourself? When you feel like your life shows little fruit, is not valuable, and feels discouraging what do you remember? When your feelings are overwhelming, life feels impossible what do you think? Or, when everything is great and happy, what do you say?
But before I share the Four Timeless Things we pondered on “Our Retreat for Retreating,” I want to share a little story.
There was a king named, Asa, in the Old Testament. He was faced with a million man army and the odds were against him. Immediately, he turned to the Lord and asked for help. The Lord heard Him, giving victory to he and his people. Much later in his life he faced another battle of sorts that seemed too difficult for him to face. This time he turned to the help of another country, giving away his treasures and treasures of the Lord in exchange for their aid. A prophet came to him, rebuking and reminding him that he should have turned to the Lord and trusted Him instead. Asa had given his trust and treasures to some other king. In anger Asa imprisoned the prophet. Why did Asa trust in the beginning and not in the end?
This is not where I want to end up, exchanging timeless treasures for temporary relief.
Four Timeless Treasures I don’t want to exchange
As I reflected on what we would discuss, I decided to share four things I am reminding myself which I see Jesus reminding His disciples in His last hours with them. (To go more in depth, read John14-17. I have talked about some of these more in recent posts.) These are things we could yawn at or overlook because of their “apparent” lack of ingenuity, but I think these three things actually grow more valuable with time, never going out of style. Timeless.
1. God loves me
This is one timeless truth that can radically impact how I think about myself today. Because of this love, and only because of this love, I am able to love others completely and sacrificially.
Jesus says this:
... that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them (the disciples), even as You have loved Me. John 17:23
This says what you think it says. The love the Father has for the Son is the same love He has for us. We have to remember this is not some sort of fickle love, that may go away or fade or fizzle. The love the Father shares with the Son is eternal, gracious, overflowing, and giving. The Father’s love is big. This is a different sort of love, in an all new category.
This love is meant to mark us and shape us today, and 20 years from today and 20 years after that. It is an identifier. We now belong to Him and His family once we believe. As His children it becomes the most important thing about us. What can make us any more valuable than that– that we are permanently loved by the Father? Because of this love, we have value. Because of this love we love. A whole new category of love. “God loves me” is timeless.
2. God is with me
Understandably, the disciples wanted Jesus to stay. They didn’t want His space to be empty in their lives. But the God of the universe said it was better this way: for Him to go, not take the disciples out of the world and to give them a gift instead. This gift, the Spirit, would transform them and the world. He said He would be with them, wherever they were, as their Helper, Comforter and Friend. This was God’s plan.
… but you will know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-16
This gift, God with me, suddenly transforms things. Life is no longer lived in my own strength, but lived with God inside me. The Father cares about His children and will not leave them alone. This is not a fickle family either, but is remaining and steadfast. This is security.
Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people time and time again that He is with them. If God reminds His people of this truth, then maybe that is something I need to remind myself of too. Timeless.
3. I am sent
To understand being sent I have to understand that the Father sent the Son. Jesus says I am sent just as He is sent.
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them (the disciples) into the world. John 17:18
As apart of God’s family I have a new vocation– as one who is sent into the world, just as Jesus is sent. I am called to be a world transformer and changer, starting first with loving God and loving others, along with sharing this redeeming love story. A timeless family occupation.
4. Abide in Him
Abiding is a key. You know how we say things like, “The key to success is….” Or, “The key to a happy marriage is…” Here Jesus gives us a key.
… he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
As we watched the storms roll in at the retreat I was reminded that “abiding” is a key for sustaining the storms of life– having the ability to trust and walk with Him in the midst of life’s challenges.
Abiding is also the key to the fruitful life. The character I need to grow in, the love I want to give, the peace I want to experience, the purpose I want to have, the power I need… is found in this key. As I abide, He produces. As I abide, He also prunes (which doesn’t feel so good), so more fruit may be displayed. It is His work in and through me. Abiding never goes out of style. Timeless.
Reminders from the closet
I have been going through my closet lately and putting aside clothes that are too small, out of style, worn out, or faded. To the garage sale pile they go. It seems like I did this task not too long ago– probably last year. How many things I no longer wear! But there are some things I am amazed that stay in my closet, never seem to go out of style. These timeless classics stick around.
There are some things I don’t want to forget– that are timeless. So, what am I telling myself or others? What am I turning to for comfort, purpose or value? I don’t want to be like King Asa, who exchanges trusting God for some temporary thing. I don’t want to trade my treasures for passing cliches or phrases that will come and then go.
God loves me. He is with me. I am sent. Abide in Him. These never go out of style. These always fit, never fade or get replaced.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
- Think of a situation you want God’s love to really be experienced and lived out. How would God’s love influence this?
- Spiritual practices (Like being in the God’s Word, fasting, taking a Sabbath, pausing, silence, confession, thanksgiving, etc) help us to remember these things and to abide in Christ. What is one you would like to step out in and try or renew in your life?
- Think of yourself as apart of the Family of God now. You are loved and have God with you. You are sent out with a purpose and have fruit to display. This is what it is like to be apart of the family!