Life is full of opposing forces that can uproot the balance that we need. If we are not careful, these forces can pull us to an extreme that becomes unhealthy.
These dichotomic forces can also bring balance back into our life, too.
Israel is filled with this polarity that harmonizes in a magical balance of old and new. Chaotic and peaceful. Sadness and joy.
I first noticed this after leaving Tel Aviv for the tranquility of the Sea of Galilee. Then we noticed the polarity of the new, busy shops and modern technology sprinkled among the several millennia old streets.
Jesus was constantly finding balance, going back and forth between Jerusalem and Galilee. Also, when staying in Jerusalem, He was making Himself known inside the crowded city, only to then travel outside the city for solitude and prayer.
I made the same walk Jesus and His followers would have made, from the city to the more secluded Garden of Gethsemane. In my photo below, the garden is the cluster of trees to the far right of the photo just beyond the edge of the cemetery.
We too, can learn much from God’s word and lessons on finding balance in our life so we can better worship Him and give Him thanks.
God knew we would be pulled too far to worldly needs and overworking, so Our Father gave us the gift of the Shabbat, or Sabbath.
This weekly day of rest is primarily associated only with Jewish culture. We noticed this immediately when we left northern Israel and the West Bank and arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday. Most everything was closed for Shabbat.
There’s always the chance that observing Shabbat can become more of a work than a time of rejuvination and worship. Jesus was even accused of performing works on Shabbat.
But He pretty quickly cleared up its intent. God gave us Shabbat so that we can worship Him. So that in the daily business of having our nose in our chores, we not lose sight of His glory.
The balance is realizing that Shabbat belongs to God. It is given to us to pause from normal pursuits and devote more time to worship God’s creation and give thanks to God.
I am still organizing my thoughts about prayer that I have been feeling since those first few days in Israel. In the meantime, I’ll just mention briefly the power finding balance through prayer.
A relationship with God is similar to other relationship in that it is a two way conversation. Without this back and forth, it cannot be a deep relationship.
God speaks to us primarily through the scriptures. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through scriptures as the best way for us to know Him through the ages.
And we respond to God through prayer. The Holy Spirit is with us to help, he’s even called, “The Advocate” by Jesus, to help take our prayers and convey them to Our Father perfectly, better than we could ever do on our own.
Jesus spent time teaching in such diverse locations. From synagogues in Jerusalem to hillsides in Galilee along the water. I fell in love with reading scripture while sitting with my feet in the water and watching the sun rise. My photo below cannot capture the serene calm and peace of God’s creation.
Think about that! God’s Word. Alive. Here on earth! While we only have the words on pages, He was here, walking those streets in Jerusalem, walking along the shores of Galilee. Speaking to us.
His ministry was around three years. You would think that with such a short time frame, Jesus would be running around non-stop telling everyone about the good news. To be fair, He did quite a bit.
But, even with God’s plan of His Son dwelling among us for such a short time, Jesus still spent much of that time alone in prayer.
Meditate on that for just a moment. God dwelt among us, and still prayed for much of that time.
So many love to say Jesus is a great role model to justify some social justice cause of helping the poor or just “loving” people.
But it can be easy to fail to see how much of His time dwelling among us He spent praying.
Once we accept those dichotomies, we can see them better. Sometimes it may take someone else to point them out to us. Sometimes it takes a trip to Israel.
For me, seeing these places allowed me to better see how Jesus balanced things. He balanced time teaching and time praying. He spent time fishing for men and he spent time resting.
I used to spend quite a bit of time in the mornings during that quiet time to read scripture and pray.
Sadly, somewhere along the line I stopped doing that. Things happened. Life got busy. It happens to us all.
Making a drastic time zone jump and sleeping within walking distance of the Sea of Galilee was God’s way to give me that time back and rebalance my life.
He gave me time to wake up in that quiet stillness before the sun. He gave me the time to stroll to the shore and sit on the beach with my feet in the water. The same water His Son walked on.
God did it. Because of Him, I was reminded of the power of rest and spending time praying to Him and being with Him.
I’m crying inside with sorrow because I am no longer staying a short walk from the Sea of Galilee. But I am crying with tears of joy that I have Him with me now, and forever.
Because He reminded me. We need balance.
Hi. I'm Scott Sullivan, a slave of Christ and husband to my awesome wife Angie. I'm an artist and writer,
living in the beautiful countryside of Lancaster, Pa.