The Pursuit

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  (Genesis 8:15-20)
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  (Exodus 20:8)
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord.  (Isaiah 66:22-23)
We saw a few weeks ago in these Everyday Devotions that God created our world with a rhythm to creation. We can spot this same rhythm in the account of Noah and his Ark as well, as God recreates the world. It’s the invitation that God gives his people to hit the pause-button on the busyness of life and to recalibrate their bodies, their thoughts and their hearts on him through a defined moment of worship. Away from the distractions and busyness of life, Noah embraces a prolonged period of time set apart with the Lord. It’s no surprise that his first action upon leaving the boat is to worship God. After all, he’s been handed the opportunity to hone the practice of being a worshipper for many months while shut away inside the Ark as well!

To cultivate a true heart of worship, the people of God need to practise the spiritual discipline of Sabbath keeping – not as a religious law but as a healthy pursuit that enables stillness, appreciation, joy and gratitude. Ultimately, Sabbath is all about worship. It’s about training ourselves to be first-and-foremost worshippers.

When the doors of the Ark opened, Noah could have scurried off and busied himself with what must have been a fairly substantial to-do list! But he chose to stop, surrender and give God access to his heart. We are told that this was “pleasing to the Lord”. If something is pleasing to the Lord, we can be sure that it is good for our souls as well.

We see this same pursuit of retreat in the life of Jesus. We are told in Luke 5:16 that he constantly withdrew from the distractions and responsibilities of his busy ministry in order to forge out moments of deep reflection and of adoration towards his Father. If Jesus needed to do this, then how much more do we! The pursuit of retreat into God is vital if we want to have a faith that goes the distance throughout the struggles and successes of our lives.
1)What might it look like for you to cultivate a regular rhythm of withdrawing, pressing the pause-button, reflecting and worshipping? How would this alter the momentum of your life?
2)We looked at this together a few weeks ago in 3.1-3.5. What did you resolve in your heart to do then? How have the past few weeks been for you?
3)What is on your calendar or your to-do list this week that might interrupt your pursuit of God? What can you do proactively to turn your momentary resolutions into a long-term new way of living?
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you modelled for us the importance of taking moments to recharge. I confess that rushing from one thing to the next is unhealthy and that taking moments to find renewal is vital. Thank you that I can bring you honour and glory through the things you’ve placed around me (relationships, hobbies, food, nature etc), but help me also to pursue times of retreat into you. Help me to offer up my whole life as an act of worship to you. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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