Life in the Balance

A Christian Perspective

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Life in the Balance
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About the Author

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Cautioning that the initiative was being instituted on a trial basis only, Forrest Logistics CEO Wayne Gartner announced Thursday that the company had recently begun experimenting with valuing its employees.
 

“For the next three months, we’ll be treating our workers as skilled professionals. We appreciate having our staff, instead of as disposable labourers whose morale could not matter less to us,” said Gartner, telling reporters that during this provisional period, management would be assessing the long-term viability of constructively addressing employee concerns and creating an overall positive work environment. “This is completely new to us, obviously, but that’s why we’re just testing it out. If need be, we can go back to essentially telling our workers that they’re lucky we hired them in the first place.” At press time, the initiative had been canceled after estimates revealed it would cost the company upwards of $2,500 annually.

Now this is from the satirical publication, “The Onion”, Valuing Customers so not true, but there is truth in this story, isn’t there. Who doesn’t know someone who feels devalued at work? This is the kind of thing that happens when individuals, groups, companies lose a sense of balance — pursue goals in such a determined way, that important values disappear.

Many things can cause our lives to go out of balance – physical distress, relationship disturbance, emotional or spiritual sorrows. What has the power to get us back in balance?

Jesus has compassion for Simon’s mother-in-law and he has the power to heal, to bring her life back into balance. Mark 1:29-39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Just think what it would’ve been like to be her. There she lay, sick and at risk — Almost certainly afraid. Back then, fevers were serious business. Even today, they are signs of danger. But Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. And her fever left her.

What a moving story it is. What powerful emotions those around her must have felt. Perhaps it stirs up something primal in us as well. How we long for Christ’s presence in our moments of grief and distress. How we long for him to take our hand and lift us up, whenever we find ourselves brought low.

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up, but that’s not the end of the story. It continues: “The fever left her, and she began to serve them.” So it is with us. When Jesus heals us, our balance is restored, and we are pressed into service. Jesus did not call us, nor did we answer, so that we could stand still. Jesus did not call us, nor did we answer, so that we could stay the same.

The call of Jesus is a call to serve. When Jesus lifts us up from low places and balances our lives, he always also sets us free to serve those around us. Our hope as Christians is that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. In this hope, we can continue to put one foot in front of the other, day by day, rebalanced to do the work of love. No matter what the cost. No matter how tired or afraid we may become. No matter what dangers or doubts may stand in our way. The love of Christ urges us onward.

Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them

There is something else in this passage which is truly intriguing. As we see Jesus rebalancing the life of Simon’s mother-in-law, and by extension us, we also see the pattern of Jesus’ life – how he balances his own life.

After healing many people, Jesus does something the disciples don’t expect:

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

Even though Simon and his friends searched for him, he prayed. In the gospels, we often read about Jesus praying alone, or trying to find some time alone, and the writer of the Gospel of Mark most frequently describes him as leaving where he is, leaving the crowds, to find a way to be alone, to meditate, to pray.

There was a balance to Jesus’ life as well. His ministry of healing was followed by withdrawal for prayer, and then proclaiming good news — a pattern of operation, established early on and maintained throughout his ministry.

When the disciples interrupted him, Jesus was ready. He answered,

‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’

● Jesus heals.
● Jesus retreats for prayer and reflection.
● Jesus proclaims the message.

This is the balance in Jesus’ life and ministry. It doesn’t take much to throw our lives off balance.

I often pass groups of runners on my way to work. I am so tempted to suggest we might help them to grow spiritually. I’ve often thought we should have a sign at the end of the drive to the church:
‘Towels, water bottles and spiritual fitness: 9.00 am’

While we work on improving our physical health, our spiritual lives disintegrate.

Jesus throws himself onto our lives, bringing us into balance with his own life. His healing sets us up to serve. Like Jesus, we have work to do.

Our balanced lives have a pattern too.:
We are healed.
We retreat to pray.
We share the good news by serving.

Circles of Candles

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” the bbp / Foter / CC BY

Jesus balances his life. Let Jesus balance your life. Follow his lead and withdraw to pray, and then you will be prepared to serve.

And There He Prayed
by Andrew King

In the darkness, light:
enfolding him, embracing him,
as we are embraced and enfolded
in our prayer.
In the emptiness, presence:
meeting him, receiving him,
as we are met and received
in our prayer.
In the stillness, peace:
nourishing him, refreshing him,
as we are refreshed and nourished
in our prayer.
In the spaciousness, listening:
hearing him, affirming him,
as we are heard and affirmed
in our prayer.
In the sacredness, calling:
beckoning him, directing him,
as we are directed and beckoned
in our prayer.

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