Slow Down

I think God's trying to teach me something.  I don't know if things like this ever happen to you, but in the last week I've had a handful of events occur that all seem to be centered on the same thing.  Here's that list:

  • Event 1: I got my 2-year-old son all set up at the dining room table with his lunch.  I finished warming up my lunch and was fully prepared to sit down on the couch, in the room adjacent to the dining room, so I could watch the next episode in Season 2 of The West Wing on Netflix (for about the 100th time!).  I should say, so you don't think I'm too neglectful of a parent, that our dining room and living room are part of the same space, separated by a love seat.  As my leftover pizza was finishing up in the microwave a thought dawned on me, "Wouldn't it be better if you sat down at the table with Jonathan? Do you need to take in another show while your son eats at the table alone?" 
  • Event 2: I follow Pastor/Author/Scholar Eugene Peterson on Twitter.  One recent tweet said this, "In prep for the day...I go to sleep to get out of the way for a while."  
  • Event 3: Yesterday, in Sunday School, we began a series on John Ortberg's book, Soul Keeping.  In the video we watched Ortberg shared a quote from Pastor & Author, Dallas Willard, that struck me, "You need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." 
  • Event 4: This morning my daily Psalm reading took me to the 131st psalm.  I read these words, "But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content."
  • Event 5: I can't make this stuff up.  Because it had been about all of ten minutes since I last checked Facebook, I opened another browser window and scrolled down to find a new post by a pastor friend.  The post was actually a picture of bottled water from the Sparkling Ice company and it had this tag line: "As in Life, Chill for Best Results."

Confession time...sometimes I'm not the best listener to my wife.  She will tell me something while I'm watching West Wing (you may be picking up on a pattern here) and later, when it would have been beneficial for me to have listened, I will not be able to recall anything she claims to have told me.  But in the events I've listed above, it's almost impossible for me not to listen and hear what God is saying to me, and maybe to you.  This is what I'm hearing, "Stop.  Slow Down.  Don't worry about being productive."  

As much as we might disagree, we are not self-made individuals.  Genesis reminds us that it was God who created us.  We came from dust and to dust we shall return.  It is God's very breath that even now sustains and animates us.  Acts 17:28 tells us, "For in him we live and move and have our being."  Yet despite this fact, we go about our day busying ourselves with stuff.  We get to the office early and stay late.  We check our email/texts/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram incessantly just in case something new has come in.  We plan activities for our children so they're not idle.  In our retirement years we fill up our day with appointments of all kinds.  We don't want to be caught not doing something.  Pastor's confession time...sometimes when I'm reading my Bible in my office, I feel the need to leave some program running on my computer just in case someone walks in lest they think I wasn't earning my paycheck.  Our culture tells us there is value in being busy, in hurrying from one thing to the next.  

Into this culture, our Sabbath-creating God tells us, "Stop.  Slow Down.  Stop being so productive.  Be present in the moment.  I created you. Be content.  I created this world.  I got this."  We need to let this sink in.  Really sink in.  David, the writer of the psalms, was able to do this.  He discovered that his worth is not found in trying to be something great.  He didn't try to be something more than what he was.  He described himself as a weaned child, and there he found contentment.  I want to get there.  I want to be present in each moment. I want to be content.  

What about you?  Have you discovered that your identity isn't found in what you do or what you produce, but solely in being a child of the creator God?  My prayer is that we will all seek to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives so that we can be fully present with God and each other.