January seems to have shot by in a blur! After the busy Christmas period it seems like January has just been and gone! In essence, a lot has taken place during the new year already. Life is now (for most of us) well and truly back to its usual busy self. In fact if I’m being honest, this letter is being written over a week late – simply because I was so caught up in doing other things I forgot all about it! That’s so easily done isn’t it?

We can, if were not careful, get caught up in an endless cycle of work, work, work. ‘Things’ seem to take over and before we know it were finding ourselves stretched. Fatigue begins to make its presence felt and rather than being productive we begin to feel overwhelmed by the jobs that seem to mount up.

At morning prayer in church today, we were reading that amazing account in Matthew 26, where Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with his disciples on the night that he was arrested. There’s two things to reflect on here; firstly Jesus, we read in verse 38 was ‘overwhelmed’ at all that he had to face. He knew what was going to unfold in the hours that followed and humanly he was finding it hard to bear.

The second point is the disciples were asked by Jesus to keep watch, verse 43 tells us ‘he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy’.

Two very simple points to consider, Jesus was a very busy man, he faced pressures that none of us could ever understand. He was at this point overwhelmed by things, and in this moment he turns to the ‘good practice’ that he has modeled all through his ministry – he turned to prayer. Spending time in the Fathers presence was crucial in enabling Jesus to fulfill his earthly mission.

I wonder, is this your practice? Do you spend time each day with your heavenly Father? You see its when we do this that the words of a famous Christian song become reality, ‘Turn your eyes unto Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, then the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glorious face’. By spending time resting in God’s peace and presence, things take on a new perspective and we find that we have a different outlook – why not try if for yourself?

Secondly, the disciples were so tired, they fell asleep. The crucial thing here is that they missed a wonderful opportunity to see Jesus in action, to learn how to pray from the master. They also missed the opportunity to carry out a really important task that Jesus had given them to do. The simple truth is, we can be so busy ‘doing things’, even sometimes ‘doing ministry’, that we miss the opportunities that God gives us. We have our eyes so firmly focused on other things that we fail to see the signs of God in and around us.  And before we know it we have missed the opportunity given to us.

Can I encourage each of us this year to follow Jesus’ pattern and to find time to pray. To allow these times to become part of our daily routine, to shape us and keep us rooted in Him. Can I also encourage us to ‘keep our eyes open’ for signs of God in and around us, and in the people we meet, that we might be effective witnesses for Him and carry out the tasks that he presents to us.

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