For the first few weeks of the New Year, a television commercial depicting Mr. Mayhem has made a New Year’s Resolution—no longer will he cause wanton destruction of property and life. It’s a nice touch, grabbing one’s eye immediately. It’s a real contrast to previous commercials where Mr. Mayhem causes, well, mayhem.
Then just this week a new commercial ran in which Mr. Mayhem, for a reason I didn’t catch, decided to do like almost everyone else, and abandon his New Year’s resolutions. Mr. Mayhem is once again on the loose, a dominant issue in our lives.
“What if death, injury, destruction, evil, all take a holiday,” I thought to myself.
Like the old movie Death Takes a Holiday, a 1934 American drama starring Fredric March, Evelyn Venable and Guy Standing. [Based on the 1924 Italian play La Morte in Vacanza by Alberto Casella, as adapted in English for Broadway in 1929 by Walter Ferris. (source: Wikipedia)]
What would a world be like that was filled with peace. No strife. No contention. No grumbling and complaining. The political parties elected by the American people would actually get along without pointing fingers and shutting down the government for four hours. Yes. I’m aware it was longer than that. But that’s the number of hours my wife lost. She went to work Monday morning for four hours to shut down her office. The shutdown ended and yesterday she opened back up. What a waste. But I digress. Obviously my grumbling didn’t take a holiday.
It seems to me that’s why we take holidays. We need a break from the constant barrage caused by Mr. Mayhem. Apparently we take the mayhem with us, however. I read once that it takes seven days to free ourselves of all the garbage and baggage in our minds. Apparently, in a two-week holiday, we free ourselves during the first seven days, get a day of real rest, then spend the remainder of our vacation with thoughts of all the things we need to do when we are back home.
What a pain.
It’s obviously made worse by the constant barrage of news, both real and fake, that we are inundated with 24/7. Yesterday I went to a body shop to have a mirror replaced on my daughter’s car. I was held captive to a big screen television set high on the wall above the waiting area. Seriously. It’s like the book 1984 except the television screens don’t actually spy on us—yet. At least I don’t think they do.
Okay. So no one said, “Mr. Robinson, you must watch this television while you wait.” But have you ever tried to concentrate on anything else while color images and talking heads are loudly intruding? Well, I was held hostage by the television. A Huge Television, In A Dominant Place IS A Distraction. Period.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. . . Matthew 14:23
Jesus got away by himself. It’s a great example for us to follow.
Get Away. Alone.
We’ve had some cold weather here in Georgia the last several weeks. But Sunday afternoon the temperature “soared” into the mid 60sºF (15ºC). Out in the garden it was beautiful, for a Winter day. I brought out my son’s iPad and Alan Jackson’s albums, Precious Moments played in the background. A cup of bold coffee tasted good, and Georgia’s strong Winter sun felt good on my skin. One of Mr. Jackson’s songs is Sweet Hour of Prayer. But how much of my sweet hour is actually prayer?
Like taking a holiday, a lot of intruding thoughts, mental distractions, make prayer difficult. It’s like trying to concentrate on reading a magazine in a waiting room with a television set on, and the screen hung prominently on the wall. It takes time to get through all the baggage, to get down to real prayer, or what approximates real prayer. Like bugs, thoughts pull my attention away, and I indulge for a moment and turn back to the prayer at hand.
The music helps. Alan Jackson sings, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
So I manage after sometime to find a place with the Lord in prayer. The sun dips below the tree line, and it gets cold quickly. It’s time to go inside. It’s time again to attend to the things of Earth that had grown somewhat dim. But even a moment with Jesus, in the Garden, is worth it. Prayer, I was taught, was for praise, worship, and praying for others. Yet that prayer time does more for me in just an hour or so than any other holiday—it relaxes the tension within my body and my mind. Restoration. I long for those times, too.
One of my prayers is that others may experience time of refreshing with Jesus. In a Garden, on a Mountain, under a tree, it’s not where that’s important, it’s the person with whom we converse. It’s about Jesus, yet we are the ones that benefit the most.
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .