When You’re Rushed Off Your Feet

I have a strange affinity for a BBC show called East Enders. It was one of my mother’s favorite programs, and that somehow rubbed off on me. East Enders is set in a culturally diverse working class neighborhood in the East End of London. Common locations on the show include the local pub, the open-air market, the launderette, and the mini-mart. Characters work long, hard hours in these places, and a common expression when they get too busy at work is “I was rushed off my feet.”

Friends, the entire Outer Banks is rushed off their feet right now and everyone is TIRED. The easing of pandemic restrictions right at the beginning of our summer season brought us very long shifts and very little down time. On top of that is a state-wide worker shortage that has taken its toll on local business owners. October never looked so good.

I have been visiting with my two daughters this week and they, too, are rushed off their feet. One has an active 22-month old, and the other has a 6-year-old boy and 4-year-old twins. Watching them in the daily practice of motherhood is exhausting!

Jesus and the apostles were in the same boat one time when they were tired and needed a break. Or at least they tried to take a break…

Mark 6 (The Message)

30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

32-34 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them.

I feel for our Lord and his friends! Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. I have friends who own a restaurant and this is exactly what Sunday brunch feels like to them. When they first opened, they invited me to do a blessing of their business. I promised to pray for them every Sunday as I drove past their building on my way to church. One summer Sunday, after a nerve-wracking, record-breaking Sunday brunch service, they jokingly asked me if I could skip praying for them for a week….they were rushed off their feet!

When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

But when you love what you do and the people you do it with (and for), you just drop your chin to your chest and press on.

Jesus’ compassion for his sheep was tremendous. But remember this….Jesus is the Messiah, and you are not. When life presses in too hard, come off by yourself and be quiet for a moment. Take a break. Even if it is just in the car during your commute, or those few moments in the morning before the first child awakes. Rest is as much an attitude as it is a cessation of work, so grab a few moments of peace when you can.

Eventually, the season turns into winter and the crowds go home. Eventually, the little ones become adults and leave the house. Eventually, you age out of your profession and retire. Until then, take a deep breath and enjoy a moment of gratitude for life as it is in this moment. You will never pass this way again.

In the Moment by Michelle Robertson

Webs of Guilt

Have you ever done something terribly wrong and then suffered from the paranoia of getting caught? When we break the rules and commit a sin, we discover that the fear of being found out is often worse than the punishment that follows. It is a relief to finally confess our misdeeds and be done with it…the guilt is expunged and the anxiety over being discovered is finally over.

In our scripture today, King Herod is overcome with his guilt. He killed John the Baptist because of a young girl’s demand. His paranoia is so great, he believes that a miracle-worker named Jesus was actually John, returned from the dead:

Mark 6 (The Message)

14 King Herod heard of all this, for by this time the name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. He said, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead—that’s why he’s able to work miracles!”

15 Others said, “No, it’s Elijah.”

Others said, “He’s a prophet, just like one of the old-time prophets.”

16 But Herod wouldn’t budge: “It’s John, sure enough. I cut off his head, and now he’s back, alive.”

Guilt will do that to you. It can drive you crazy to hold onto a secret or to have to cover up a crime or indiscretion. One lie leads to another lie until we are caught in a web of deception. Herod’s guilt was great. He actually liked John. He had given John special treatment as a “holy man,” and respected the fact that John was bold enough to speak the truth:

17-20 Herod was the one who had ordered the arrest of John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison at the nagging of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herodias, smoldering with hate, wanted to kill him, but didn’t dare because Herod was in awe of John. Convinced that he was a holy man, he gave him special treatment. Whenever he listened to him he was miserable with guilt—and yet he couldn’t stay away. Something in John kept pulling him back.

“Something in John kept pulling [Herod] back.” This is a sad statement. The power of the Holy Spirit working though John had almost broken down the walls that Herod had erected around himself. Herod felt the guilt that came with the truth John had exposed, and he couldn’t stay away. He was almost ready to turn it all around until…

21-22 But a portentous day arrived when Herod threw a birthday party, inviting all the brass and bluebloods in Galilee. Herodias’s daughter entered the banquet hall and danced for the guests. She charmed Herod and the guests.

22-23 The king said to the girl, “Ask me anything. I’ll give you anything you want.” Carried away, he kept on, “I swear, I’ll split my kingdom with you if you say so!”

24 She went back to her mother and said, “What should I ask for?”

“Ask for the head of John the Baptizer.”

25 Excited, she ran back to the king and said, “I want the head of John the Baptizer served up on a platter. And I want it now!”

His lustful eye for the young daughter of Herodias was his undoing. Trapped now by his hastily spoken words, he had no choice but to act on his extravagantly stupid vow to give her whatever she wanted.

26-29 That sobered the king up fast. But unwilling to lose face with his guests, he caved in and let her have her wish. The king sent the executioner off to the prison with orders to bring back John’s head. He went, cut off John’s head, brought it back on a platter, and presented it to the girl, who gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and got the body and gave it a decent burial.

How sad. It would have been so much better for Herod to accept John’s truth, repent of his sins, and receive forgiveness. But instead, Herod ends up beheading a man that he truly admired….a man who could have saved Herod from himself.

If there is anything to be learned here, it is that guilt can be destructive. Many of us carry guilt around for years, and it eats away at our self-esteem and our peace. We are caught in its sticky web and we can’t get free.

Do you have guilt that is pulling you down? Get rid of it. Take it to Jesus and let him absolve you. He will throw that sin away, as far as the East is from the West, and you will never be burdened by it again.

Jesus was indeed a miracle-maker. Let him make a miracle in you today.

Deception’s Web

Shake the Dust Off

A young writer struggles to complete his first novel. Living in a trailer, driving a broken-down Buick, and working as a gas station attendant, he really needs a win. So he sends his manuscript out to 30 publishers and is rejected by every single one.

The writer? Stephen King. The novel? Carrie.

This is a story about how to take rejection and move on. It is also a story about believing in your mission. King believed that he could write and sell books, and he ended up being right. He is the author of over 50 novels and ranks in the top 20 of the most published people in the world.

Obviously he did not let those first 30 rejections slow him down. He “shook the dust off his feet” and moved on to a place where his gift would be accepted and celebrated. And monetized!

In the sixth chapter of Mark, Jesus and the disciples were having a rough go of it. Jesus had just been completely rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, where the people knew him as “Joe’s son” and “Mary’s boy.” They scoffed at the notion that homeboy was the messiah. No worries, said Jesus. We’ll just keep moving on.

So he gathered his men and sent them out in pairs with very specific instructions:

Mark 6 (Common English Bible)

He called for the Twelve and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no bread, no bags, and no money in their belts. He told them to wear sandals but not to put on two shirts. 10 He said, “Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. 11 If a place doesn’t welcome you or listen to you, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.” 

There are times in our lives when people will turn their backs on us and refuse to listen. There are cliques and groups who refuse admission to newbies based on some mysterious standard for who should sit at the “cool kids’ table.” Even family can be cold when it comes to acceptance and hospitality. What should you do? Shake the dust off your feet and walk away.

12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should change their hearts and lives. 13 They cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people with olive oil and healed them.

The disciples did what Jesus instructed, and because they were able to walk away from the drama of exclusivity, many people were included in God’s plan for changed hearts, changed lives, and total wellness. The disciples didn’t pout…they just got on with it. They believed in who they were, and they believed in their mission.

How about you? Do you believe in yourself enough to walk away from toxic relationships? Can you shake off the dust of rejection and put one foot in front of the other as you pursue what you are meant to be? Do you believe in your mission?

One place we are always received with open arms is at the heavenly banquet. God himself sets the table and invites all who repent to come in and “set a spell.” Everyone there is a “cool kid,” from the top of their heads all the way to their dusty toes. So just shake the other stuff off and walk on over. You’ll fit right in.

Come Set a Spell by Kathy Schumacher