The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright often related a story from his childhood that had a profound influence on the rest of his life. In the winter when he was 9 years old, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true, and then pointed to Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field. “Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly at my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”
Years later the world famous architect liked to tell how this experience had contributed to his philosophy in life. “I determined right then that I would not miss the things in life that my uncle had missed.” Frank Lloyd Wright saw in those tracks what his uncle could not: it is easy to let the demands of life keep us from the joys of living.
We all recognize that any goal in life worth achieving demands a great deal of energy and planning. We have to set goals and then work hard to fulfill them. But here’s what the 9-year-old boy discovered, that it is not the goal, but the journey on the way to the goal, that is truly important.
In our scripture today Jesus is just getting started in his ministry. Mark’s Gospel tells us that after one of his first sermons in the synagogue, he is told that Simon’s mother-in-law is very sick. Jesus goes to her home, takes her hand and lifts her up, her fever has gone and she immediately begins to help/serve others. Soon great crowds arrive at the house seeking to be healed. The whole city of Capernaum seems to be gathering at the home of Simon’s mother-in-law wanting to see and hear Jesus. The demands on him were piling up. Many had been healed, demons had been cast out and people had rejoiced in hearing the teachings of Jesus. It was a long, exhausting day.
But instead of ‘ sleeping in’ the next morning, Jesus got up early and left the house, looking for a quiet place. When his disciples awoke and couldn’t find him they began a search, and when they found him they said “What are you doing? Everyone is searching for you.” Jesus could have said any number of things at this point, but what he says is surprising. “You are right, Simon. Let us go to the next town so that we can get started there.” Jesus wanted to leave his temporary solitude and get on with his mission which was to preach the good news. “That is why I have come.”
Jesus’ goal and purpose was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. There were some healings along the way, but the primary goal of his ministry was preaching. For us as followers of Jesus, and for us as a congregation, our goal and purpose is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, loving our neighbour as we love ourselves, and to reach out with love and care wherever people are in need of support. This is our goal, and like Jesus, we should not let others detract us from it.
There is a story and image of Jesus and his disciples on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A storm comes up and the boat is tossing and turning and the disciples are terrified. Jesus wakes from his sleep and asks them what they are worried about? Jesus then calmly stills the storm.
Life will always bring us storms. We will often encounter things in our lives that throw us off our course, that upset us, worry us, make us feel restless and anxious. But Jesus’ message is clear: When he’s “in the boat with us”, we have nothing to fear.
Today, I wish for you God’s healing. May the spiritual fever that makes you restless truly leave you as your Saviour and Healer bestows upon you the hand of peace, grace, love and wellness.