Monday, August 15, 2005

4,000 Reasons to Wake Up

"My plate's full" has come to mean a person's schedule is overbooked or they have all they can manage in their life. No more can be added. One more green pea on the cardboard Chinete plate and it'll fold up, upsetting the precarious balance.

When I ask friends, "How are you?" The all too common answer is "Busy." And it's the same answer I often give. Exiting the express way is tough. When life is lived in a trot, stepping off the treadmill can be difficult.

Jesus knew busy. I'm convinced he had a tight schedule--many wanted an audience: the chronically ill seeking cures, the dying wanting more of life, and those weighted by wrong-living seeking forgiveness. On one occasion Jesus taught a crowd for two days (Matthew 15:29-39). The men alone numbered 4,000, not counting the women and children. In an outdoor area, they probably camped out, sleeping on patches of grass and cloaks. During that second night, when Jesus heard the arthritic moans of sleeping people shifting their weight, did he think, "They're still out there."

The 4,000 were there when he went to bed, and when he woke up, they were still all around him. I believe when Jesus awoke on the third morning, and the thousands of men, women and children stretched, yawned and grinned at him, that he greeted God, his station in life, and the people with a smile.

I've had long to-do lists, but I've never awakened to 4,000 people waiting to see me. Two lessons about Jesus and this huge crowd helped me. First, Jesus didn't get flustered because the all the people still milled around on the third morning.

And this third sunrise, the impromptu campers were even more needy. Now, their stomach growled. And God supplied their needs. Before, when reading this story, I missed two important lessons. One is gracious-Jesus continuing to do the same teaching, healing, and even providing food on day three. The same Jesus ably assists his children who awaken to routine back breaking or heart taxing tasks for long periods.

For months, even years, some care for a family member with Alzheimers or another may work long hours to pay off debt. Jesus knows what it is like to wake up and be greeted by the same scene. He can and will give endurance and even ignite smiles in his servants.

I'm also impressed with Jesus' time investment. He focused on caring for people. In this modern age, just shuffling all the paper mail, receipts, documents and reading material is a never ending job. Add to the paper mania all the things we fuel, vacuum, wash and dry and one could spend every moment grooming inanimate objects.

Even though Poor Richard's Almanac said that fish and visitors smell after three days, Jesus greeted his 4,000 plus hillside guests with grace. Also, Jesus joyfully invested his time in the Father's business, because the Father's business was and still is people.

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