“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake” (Matt. 13:1).
The Christian life is largely about imitating the spiritual habits and behaviors of Jesus. Now, many of Jesus’ teachings and practices are rigorous and demanding. E.g., “If you want to be my disciple you must first deny yourself and take up your own cross.”
Yet, some of Jesus’ practices are so easy and simple they escape us. We assume they are unimportant details and we jump right over them without a second thought. One such example is this passing comment in Matthew 13:1.
Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.
Boom! Do you want to be more like Jesus? Do you want to do something spiritual? Turn the TV off and go sit by a lake for a while. Leave your cubicle on your lunch break today and take a walk in the woods. You just might find yourself feeling closer to God. Your ears might be opened a bit wider to His “still, soft whisper.”
Of course, we industrious Americans usually feel guilty sitting by the lake in the middle of a work day while everyone else is racing around trying to get ahead. Ahead of what exactly? Well, one person many are “getting ahead” of is Jesus himself, who knew the importance of slowing down, “considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air” (Matt. 6), and constantly finding ways to stay connected to our Heavenly Father.
There’s a powerful two-fold movement here in this simple statement: Jesus went away from something in order to go toward something else. First, he went out of the house. He went away from the noise and distractions of the house. For me, that means momentarily stepping away from the noise of my kids, the messes all around the house, the list of projects to get done, and above all the constant temptation to be a couch potato and watch TV all evening. What does going out of your house represent? What do you need to leave behind momentarily each day in order to connect with God?
Second, he went to the lake. He went to a place that helped him focus on God, the reality of the Kingdom and the mission of God in the world. In this case, it was sitting down by the lake. Elsewhere we read that Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). For me, this means late night walks under the stars. Whenever I manage to drag myself away from the couch and the television, and get outside under the stars, I always feel more inspired to pray and reflect on spiritual matters. (I’ve been failing miserably lately — too much TV.)
We recently moved out of town and now have a long driveway and pitch black dirt road for evening walks. My new goal is to simply walk to the mailbox and back (500 feet) every evening before going to bed. Just a short walk to allow me to connect with God every night before I close my eyes. It’s my own way of trying to follow Jesus’ simple yet profound movement “out of the house to sit by the lake.”
May others begin to say about me that “He went out of the house and walked under the stars.” What does getting out of the house and sitting by the lake look like for you? Bike ride? Running? Fishing? Golfing? Gardening? Lawn mowing?