Immediately

This weekend I was blessed to be invited to a nearby church to do a talk about on my book Psalms by the Sea. The organizer had done a terrific job planning the entire thing and had ordered my books from Amazon for the women who wanted to purchase them. Thinking that they would have the books in front of them, I prepared my presentation in a way that I could use volunteer readers and have some of the psalms read out loud together. When I got there, she told me that the books had not come yet, so I quickly shifted to a more “author book reading style,” which turned out just fine.

We joked about why the books failed to arrive on time. Our little island’s single curvy road is under construction. Perhaps the books are stuck at the first portable stop light waiting for the little flag to go up and the light to turn from red to yellow. Or perhaps Amazon sent them by boat and our recent high winds and strong waves were too much for the poor guy rowing them across the sound. Or maybe they had been delivered and were sitting outside the organizer’s house in an odd place. This has happened to all of us, as our beachy houses on stilts don’t have a discernible front door and we often find packages left days earlier in weird places.

So, when I read the assigned scripture today about Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to follow him, the word “immediately” jumped out at me:

Matthew 4 (Common English Bible)

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishers. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

Wouldn’t it be lovely if things happened immediately?

“Georgia, stop barking.” And Georgia stopped immediately

“Kids, go get ready for school.” And the kids got ready immediately.

“Honey, it’s time to leave for the movie.” And honey got up from the couch, turned off the football game, and immediately got into the car.

“Immediately” would be such a blessing at the DMV, when you’re on the phone holding for a “representative,” or in the overcrowded Urgent Care waiting room. Peter and Andrew had been preveniently moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to Jesus’ invitation to drop everything and become a disciple.

21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus surely had the power to move people immediately in a way that we don’t. I also think this scripture points out that we don’t respond to God’s calling quite as quickly as those early disciples, and perhaps we should learn from their example. It took me two years of discernment to decide to go into the ministry. These things must be thought out carefully but there are also times when God tells us to speak a kind word to someone who is hurting or stop what we are doing to attend to a need right in front of us and we ignore those prompts and continue to do our own thing.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

23 Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

This may be a stretch, but I wonder if the fact that his posse responded immediately to his call propelled Jesus into his teaching and healing ministries. He didn’t have to continue to go around Galilee looking for a team: they were in place, and he could turn his attention to his own calling.

Where is God calling you to do something immediately? It may be as small as a phone call you’ve been putting off, or as big as starting to plan a mission trip.

Whatever it is, do it.

Immediately!

Follow Me by Michelle Robertson

More than Bread

Ahhhh, temptation. If you gave something up for Lent this year, you are probably in the fighting-temptation stage. A friend shared with me that she gave up Twitter. She felt she was spending too much time and emotional energy on Twitter, and is now trying to break the habit of constantly looking at it. Her need to scroll was challenging at the beginning, and she even contemplated changing her password to a computer-generated one, with the idea of saving it in a safe place for later, and thus by-passing the temptation to look.

I get it. Psychologists say it takes a full six weeks to develop a new habit and rid yourself of an old one. It is WORK.

Jesus gets it, too. In our passage today, we see Jesus in the wilderness, weak and starving, being tempted by the Tempter Extraordinaire:

Matthew 4 (The Message)

1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”

5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”

Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”

Did you notice that Jesus answered each assault by quoting scripture? Could there be any better way to look temptation in the face? Of course that meant that he KNEW scripture….

Thus, the challenge for us. Bible Study leader Dick Murray once said that it was in a foxhole in World War II when he realized how little scripture he had actually memorized. After reciting the few big ones he knew (John 3:16 and Psalm 23,) he was at a loss. From that day on, he committed to memorizing scripture. Think about it: if your only Bible was the one in your head, how much use would it be to you?

8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”

10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.

Beat it, Satan! You have to love The Message’s language. I imagine this scripture is one we can all memorize! And one that we all need on a daily basis. And again, Jesus backs up his rebuke with another quotation from scripture.

As you continue the discipline of giving something up this Lent, perhaps you might consider taking on the memorization of Bible passages. After all, it takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth to keep temptation at bay. Let’s start today….repeat after me:

BEAT IT, SATAN!

“I will not eat these, I will not eat these…” Simba’s Temptation by Marta Young