Recently, I found myself trudging through one of those dry and parched seasons of ministry. I had just finished my first year at a new appointment. I had been working at a frenetic pace getting to know all the new people, working on a recent merger with a small rural congregation, the launch of two major new ministries, and a rather uncharacteristic series of “members behaving badly” events. Suffice it to say, I was tired. In fact, I was approaching burnout. I had been hiding my increasingly poor attitude rather well, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep up the façade.
Then one day I went out to the Spiritual Retreat Center at Maria Stein to help with hospitality for the Local Pastor Licensing School. After my hospitality responsibilities were complete, I walked the grounds of the retreat center, specifically, the Stations of the Cross (well, half the stations anyway). When I arrived at the crucifixion, I just stopped there. The figure of Jesus on the cross was painted to look very realistic, and he was life-sized. I just stared at Jesus for about 15 minutes. You might say that I truly “fixed my eyes on Jesus” for the first time in a long time, at least to this extent. Have you ever stared at something so long that it looks like it’s moving, even when it is not? That’s what happed to me at that Station of the Cross. It appeared to me as if Jesus was lifting his head and looking at me. It was amazing! I could only assume what I was feeling was comparable to Wesley’s strangely warmed heart.
I didn’t finish walking the rest of the stations. I didn’t feel I needed to. I didn’t really even have a desire to walk them. I already felt like a totally new person. The weight that I carried into that place had been totally lifted. I felt joy again. I had peace again. The problems I walked out there with still existed; they just weren’t weighing me down anymore. I was reminded very clearly of the importance of spending some quiet time every day, simply fixing my eyes on Jesus. If we are to be all God created us to be, we need time away from working and doing in order to spend time simply being in the presence of Christ. I urge you to make the time and take the time my friends, because it will change everything!