The discipline to stay.
God did not inspire the authors of Scripture to color-coat the realities of faith. From cover to cover the sinful nature of the human species is revealed, and our creativity in expressing it. Yesterday we remembered the joyful victory of the empty tomb. We celebrate the empty tomb because it is our source of eternal joy, peace, hope, and the promise of an abundant life. Last Friday we observed the horrible crucifixion of Jesus. Pain and suffering, hardship and trials, uncertainty, frustration, disappointment, discouragement, and a catalog of physical, emotional, and spiritual disorders are still our sorrowful life companions. Ours is a sinful, broken world. Jesus told his disciples that they would have trouble in it. Interestingly, the Bible affirms that these negatives produce endurance in us. To the persecuted Roman believers the Apostle Paul wrote---
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and
hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5: 3-5 ESV
The disciplines of endurance are our curriculum in times of difficulty, when it seems that the clock is moving so slowly. In personal study over the past few weeks five biblical lesson plans about these disciplines have challenged, convicted, and inspired me.
THE DISCIPLINE TO STAY
So, today we are quarantined, ordered by various levels of government proclamation to stay at home. The discipline to stay is a hard first step in endurance learning. That is because modern culture is characterized by mobility. Being on the go is our preferred mode of existence. Today we are wired for movement. Our life systems and personal freedoms give us the luxury of travel---advancement, escape, occupations, leisure, education, personal aspirations, and many other catalysts push us to new levels of activity. To stay is to resist these inner compulsions and habitual routines.
Dr. Luke recorded the last command Jesus gave his disciples. Make note---
But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
Luke 24: 49, ESV
It may have been a very difficult assignment, to stay in Jerusalem. Surely Jerusalem was a dangerous place for them. The Roman legions and Jewish population had been ignited by Jesus and the disciples, resulting in his painful, and public execution. On the third day he had risen from the grave, just as he had told them. Rumors and fake news had them all concluding that Christ's followers had stolen his body. They were no doubt tempted to escape to the Galilee. But, Jesus commanded them to stay. And, they did.
Luke wrote more about it in his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait
for the promise of the Father,
Acts 1: 4, ESV
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem,
a Sabbath day's journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper
room, where they were staying.
Acts 1: 12-13, ESV
Luke marked their obedience and noted that they were staying in a place known as the upper room. Their obedience moved them to find a safe place to stay.
Enduring hard and difficult times often generates our escape mechanisms. Staying in place can seemingly heighten our fears or become a challenging obstacle to enduring. Today we are still, after many weeks, cautioned to stay home. And, staying is awkward for mobile Americans.
Of course, Jesus is our model of endurance. He endured the cross for the joy set before him (see Hebrews 12: 1-2, ESV). The Hebrews passage concludes that we are to "run with endurance the race set before us" (verse, 2). Doing so is first learned in the lesson plan of staying.
The discipline to stay is a first step of enduring. Here's praying that we learn it soon.