Monday, July 28, 2008

God When I'm Tired

...and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down... (John 4:6)

I hate being tired. I remember as a kid, sitting in the back seat of automobiles my parents owned. We'd be traveling, which I didn't mind.

But occasionally we'd travel at night which I HATED. And it wasn't the traveling. It was being tired while traveling.

Nighttime was for sleeping. And sleeping was supposed to happen in a BED, not the backseat of a Ford Pinto.

Being tired changes me, if I let it. I place a high priority on a good night's sleep. I hate being tired.

And I wonder, "Can anything good happen when we're bone-tired?"

Of course.

I've never run a marathon, but I can only imagine how exhilarating and exhausting it must be. When you cross the finish line, the mix of life and death, celebration and mourning must be unique.

I've never given birth, but I've watched my wife over twenty-seven months of her life, share her energy and her body with a little, growing person inside. Talk about tiring.

I have been a part of tiring work experiences. Lifting and moving bundles of back-breaking shingles on a blazing, sticky roof, comes to mind. So does digging a trench or a ditch.

I know how cranky I can become when the blood, bruises, sunburn and sweat increase, in opposite proportions to my patience, joy, and wisdom. Ever say or do dumb things when you're tired?

We can snap with a cruel word, a thoughtless act, or a mean-spirited attitude.

We're only human, after all, right?

How many times have you said, "He's just tired" or "She's short on sleep" to excuse some bad behavior?

Mondays are usually a low-energy day for pastors. A lot of my friends take Monday off. It makes sense. The best of Sundays can leave you drained. And the worst...well, leave you feeling like a squashed bug on a windshield, expected to get up and keep moving with a happy face.

So it was with interest that the phrase ...and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down... caught my attention.

Jesus? Tired?

Yes. There are actually a number of occasions in the Bible where he is tired and he tries to get away from the crowds.

(Usually there is someone in a particularly acute situation. They track him down, cut short his time off, and bring him back to help with their need.)

In this instance, a tired Jesus sits down next to a well...the water hose of his day.

You could get water for your camels or other animals from the well.

You could get water to cook.

You could get water to clean.

But here on his journey, Jesus might have been thinking about sitting down and getting something to drink. Who could blame him?

However, the account doesn't end with Jesus filling up his water bottle and moving along. He wasn't only thinking about his own thirst and how tired he was.

Instead, when a woman comes to the well, Jesus has one of the most amazing conversations recorded in scripture. He ignores all kinds of cultural rules (including gender and ethnic), and leaves a town and a woman with a questionable past, changed forever. "He told me everything I've ever done!" the woman exclaims.

She runs back to town and brings all who are willing, to come and meet Jesus. They urge him to stay for awhile and he does stay for a couple of days.

The disciples, who, like all of us, have more questions than answers, need a quick tutorial. Jesus gives it to them. And years later, John is still talking about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

All this comes after ...Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down...

The account of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness ends with, "...the devil...left him until an opportune time (Luke 4:13)."

I don't know when those times occured. I don't know if those times might have been when he was particularly tired, like this time. I don't know if this was one of those times he was tempted.

Tempted to just get something to drink and then move on. Tempted to ignore her, tempted to not ask about her story, tempted to leave well enough alone. Was he? I don't know.

But I do know that ...Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down...and amazing things took place. A conversation. A changed life. A changed village. An enlightened group of disciples.

And I know when I get tired, that might be the exact moment God wants to do something amazing through me.

May we be in tune with the Spirit and not let our weariness cause us to miss out on God's unique opportunities.

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