PASTOR’S COLUMN “So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped His public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with His disciples.” John 11:53-54, NLT 5th Sunday in Lent - “Stopping To Start” Many of the decisions we make in life are out of an abundance of caution. When the possible consequences of a situation are apparent, we must act with prudence. Doing nothing constructive in a difficult time is never an option. When faced with a foreboding challenge, there are moments when a person must consider an alternative. Such an alternative is doing something, that will lead the person forward. There is an overlooked passage of scripture in the Gospel of John, where Jesus made a bold decision to suspend His public ministry. Days before the observance of the Jewish Passover, Jesus “stopped” His ministry, and retreated with His disciples to the village of Ephraim. This wise decision to leave Jerusalem and travel twelve miles to this somewhat obscure town, was to avoid the Jewish leaders. Although the opposing group attempted to plot His death, the decision Jesus made was not out of fear, but caution. Jesus knew what His mission was, and was aware of its timing. Although death was certain, Jesus was keenly aware that His final journey was determined by God, and not people. That critical “stop” that Jesus made in Ephraim, prepared Him for His return to Jerusalem. Jesus could not have gone forward, until He “stayed in Ephraim with His disciples.” We live in a world where impatience with a season of “pause” elicits anger, stress, and divisiveness. Some fail to imagine, nor less understand, the wisdom in suspending some things in order to gain better things. The example of Jesus, is a lesson for us all. Whatever we do, it is subject to changes and options. We should neither fear, nor have disdain for, the changes we are compelled to make in life. There is never a time when we must cease our engagement, albeit temporarily; that God does not direct us the way forward!