Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Solace In The Mountain

During a mission trip in Tecate, Mexico. December 2012
One of the things I love about The Branch is revisiting scripture I've read hundreds of times. You know how it is, you read something so much you become the annoying know-it-all.

We've been reading the book of John and last week we delved into John 6:1-15. It's a snapshot of Jesus feeding over five thousand people with "five small barley loaves and two small fish." Regardless of your beliefs I'm sure you've heard a version of this story. 

This time, I focused less on the miracle of Jesus providing minimal food to a multitude of people and more on how he took off AFTER he fed them. I envision the crowd's energy growing in its intensity while people murmur "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." Kind of like the news segment I watched recently of crazed teens chasing after Justin Bieber's vehicle to catch a glimpse of the mofo. 

Verse 15: 
Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. 

The sentence in my Bible wasn't in bold letters but the words stood out like a banner. 

I sat in stunned silence. 

Wow. I never noticed the impact of those words. 

The throng of hungry people Jesus fed with small loaves and two fish was on the verge of acting like crazed teens rabid for a Justin Bieber sighting. But Jesus didn't want the fandom. So much so that he said peace out, yo! 


I love that he took off, withdrew, to a mountain by himself! Solo! 

We are immersed in a culture fed by social media. I see it every day and I'm guilty of it myself. We've built our own kingdom on Facebook Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, 500px, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. where we crown ourselves king or queen of the royal palace. We are now defined by the number of followers we've amassed across all social media outlets, place our worth on the pedestal of adoration, then watch it tumble in comparison to those who have more "likes." 

Status updates, tweets, posts, and selfies are small cogs driving the machine of self-promotion. We've erected effigies in our likeness where our adoring fans can bow down in supplication and bestow us with their likes, comments, retweets, favorites, and reposts. 

We convince ourselves it's all for the promotion of our business endeavors and for awhile it becomes our truth. Our art, our business, and our creativity are affirmed. Justified. 

Until the likes, comments, retweets, favorites, and reposts subside. So we chase the fame and glory by mimicking someone's formula of success because self-doubt has put the brakes on the adoration. 

In our frenzied pursuit of fandom we lose our voice and identity, aborting the flow of our creativity. We lose the one thing that made us real to our followers and stuff our vulnerability deep down in fear of rejection. We are battered by our endless absorption of social media that we forget to withdraw from the noise. 

I'm guilty of all of the above. 

I've learned not to wait for a mountain to appear on the horizon. Sometimes my mountain looks like a quiet garage lined with vinyl records from floor to ceiling, or a dimly lit room fragrant with essential oils, or my silent car on the hourlong commute to work. 

Withdrawing to our mountain means reconnecting with the love inside us. 

Unplugging from our adoring followers allows us to accept our vulnerability without shame. 

In the silence we learn to face our flaws in order to accept and embrace them. 

Seeking solitude refuels our energy so we can give back in our compassion and meet the needs of those around us. 

My quiet mountain encourages me to shut off the abusive thoughts I've directed at myself all day because who needs enemies when I'm the master at solo beat downs? When all I have is my solitary space I have no choice but to view the limitations that's holding me back from experiencing the fullness of what God wants for my life. 

Days, weeks, and months flash by with me telling God exactly what I want, how I want it, and where I want it. But not once in my spoiled arrogance have I asked him, What do YOU want from me? And if his desire for my life deviates from my expectations will my heart be open to it? 

The answers to my questions can only be found in my quiet time where the still, small voice of the ONE who guides me is loud and clear. Like Jesus, I need to withdraw from the noise not one day, not once a week, but frequently. And maybe, instead of preening like a queen before my adoring fans I could invite HIM from the outskirts of the kingdom to sit on the throne where he belongs.