Tuesday 8 July 2008

Up on a mountain, alone

This morning, as with yesterday morning, in my morning quiet time I was re-reading John 6, paying particular attention to verse 15. Jesus has just fed 5,000 people and he's getting caught up in people's expectations.

Verse 15 reads, "Jesus realized that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone." After doing some amazing things the crowds were growing and their expectations were growing too, all things were building up, it appears, to the apparently inevitable conclusion that Jesus was their day-to-day earthly king. There must have been an awful lot of worldly expectation to go with such a projected outcome. Maybe Jesus realized that they would try to force Him to be their king. So He went up on a mountain, where He could be alone. Expectations regarding Jesus freeing Jerusalem from the Romans, expectations about uniting God's people, dealing with foreigners, sorting out taxes, criminal cases, petty arguments in the street, about who was more important. So much expectation...

The people didn't have God's picture, His insight into what Jesus was to accomplish. I love that Jesus went up a mountain to be alone, He took a step back from people's expectations, He took a step back from the pressures of His public life. What did He do? I imagine He prayed, like He prayed whenever He went somewhere to be alone. But not totally alone. Alone with His Father.

People's expectations can be too much; they can weigh us down, positively drown us, stifle us, snuff out creativity and imprison freedom and expression. What is Jesus expecting of us? Forget what the crowd thinks or expects? What about God? Maybe we need to retreat to a mountain to be alone. But not totally alone. Alone with God, our Father.

Tuesday 1 July 2008


For my fifteenth birthday my mum and dad bought me a red mountain bike. I've still got it. I love my red mountain bike, except when it's raining and I have to get to work on it! From the age of 15 until I was 18 I rode it constantly. Between the ages of 18-22 I never rode it. From the age of 23 onwards I've used it very regularly. Usually everyday.

It's a great bike, though I have noticed that in the last few months I've been getting a bit fed up with it. The problem is, my red bike is a mountain bike and Sale and the surrounding area are... quite flat. So my bike hasn't really been used very efficiently. I see people riding to work on road bikes and racing bikes and they go like the wind. My old bike, well, it chugs along the road, with me puffing away at the peddles. It's an 18 gear bike, though it's now only really got 12!

Today I took my bike on the Transpennine Trail. It was fantastic, rocks, puddles, mud, puddles, mud, rocks, scree, incredible speeds, darting in and out, absolutely brilliant.

My poor red bike would have loved it if it wasn't just a slowly rotting, rusting object. It was fit for the purpose it was used for. It's not the best bike on a road or as a commuter vehicle, but shove it on a hill, or a trail and it's transformed. It changes from being a reasonably okay bike, to a glorious colossus capable of flattening mountains.... Well maybe not, but there is a point.

Made for a purpose, the bike is excellent. Sometimes, in my life I forget what purpose I was made for. I struggle along doing things I was never created to do. Knowing what I have been made to do is difficult. We could all have been made for all sorts of reasons. The struggle, then, is accepting the fact that we might be better suited to a different course!