Tag Archives: renewal

Spring brake

No, I didn’t spell it wrong. During this time of year, people need a brake. Kari Myers wrote an article entitled “Being good when you feel bad.” Here are some of her thoughts.

“Sickness, stress, and sleep deprivation are three things that can really do a number of a person’s disposition. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do. Maybe you know it, too. When we feel bad, physically or emotionally, we tend not to handle things as well as we would on a good day. Bad days can tempt us to focus inward. If they persist we can fall into self-pity or become obsessed with improving our situation. We can be self-absorbed, self-serving, or just plain selfish. But it does not have to be so. Jesus showed us another way. At the moment of His betrayal to an angry mob who would take Him to a cruel death, He healed the servant of His enemy. On the worst of days, as He was unjustly arrested and threatened, He responded with compassion. In the midst of His own pain, He took notice of and tended to the pain of another. Jesus loved in good times and bad.”

We need a brake. We need to stop striving so much. We need to inventory our busy-ness. We need to honor Sabbath keeping, as Bryan Brock taught in the Gathering last week. We cannot run on empty without damage to us and others.

He had been neglecting his young daughter. He knew it, but what could he do? Work was crazy. Meeting one deadline after the next required immense investments of time and energy. His wife had reminded him often that he was missing a lot at home, with her and with their 3 year-old little girl. He promised he would come home early and spend time with her. He left work only to bring work home. But he could take a few minutes. “What would you like to do with your dad?” he asked her while glancing at his watch. “I wanna take a walk.” Simple enough. How long could that take? One quick turn around the block. Only it wasn’t one quick turn around the block. Every few steps, she stopped, bent over to examine a bug or a flower or a crack in the sidewalk and exclaim, “Lookit!” His exasperation was evident. Passing them by was an elderly neighbor. The old man whispered to the dad, “You’re missing it.” Trying to be polite, the father responded, “I’ve seen a bug. I’ve seen a flower.” The neighbor stopped and said, “That’s not what you’re missing.”

 

Apply the brake. Don’t miss life. “Lookit!”

 

 

Slow Down

You gotta slow down! In 1825, a letter of alarm and complaint was sent to the British Parliament. In part it read: “What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches! We trust that Parliament will, in all railways it may sanction, limit the speed to eight or nine miles an hour, which is as great as can be ventured on with safety.”

Yes, 2015 is vastly different than 1825. On some days, we wish we could travel as fast as eight or nine miles an hour in Atlanta traffic. In reality, the speed of life these days is an enemy, not a friend. I see it in my life, the lives of children, youth, and families, in church, in business … it’s hard not to notice the rush.

Dallas Willard spoke truth when he insisted: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Carl Jung wrote: “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” John Ortberg said, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.”

Okay, now that we know the problem, how do we address it?

  1. Do you remember when we were promised a four-day work week? We cannot hurry and buy more time. We have to work smarter, not harder.
  2. Do you remember when we were promised that technology would increase our efficiency and effectiveness? But at what price? Our technology tends to isolate us, not connect us. We talk to devices and machines. We have to break free from screens!

What’s the rush? I hate being late so I get ‘there’ early. So I sit in my car and try to recalibrate. I listen to music or read a book I carry. Sometimes I just think or take some deep breaths. Often, I can turn my hurry into refreshment.

Perhaps we could have screen-free zones like at the dinner table. How often are we guilty of having a phone or a tablet or a television grab our attention instead of focusing on the people around us?

Instead of driving a familiar route, walk it instead. You will notice things that have escaped your attention, I guarantee.

Schedule a ten-minute nap or rest in your day. Many companies are realizing the value of short breaks for contemplation, rest, and renewal. Instead of staring at your computer or reading one more report, get up and walk around for a few minutes. Pick up your Bible and read a Psalm. Make a short list and bow your head in prayer. Push hurry away, if just for a few moments.

Life is too precious to rush through.

Adjustments

During the school year, a sixth grade boy announced to his father: “I don’t have to do my homework anymore.”

Understandably, dad wanted to know more. The young man explained: “I have adjusted myself to inferior grades.”

Soon after, some additional adjustments were made in that young man’s life.

Adjustments are a part of life. Change of pace, course correction, new approach, renewal, second wind … there are any number of phrases or terms that help describe what happens when we decide a change is necessary, when we realize we cannot continue without making some adjustment.

It could be attitude. Let’s do a reality check. On a scale of one to ten (‘10’ is optimistic, positive, excited – ‘1’ is “Don’t even come close to me; I’ll bite your head off.”), how’s your attitude? Are you a joy to be around? Is your enthusiasm infectious? Or are you spreading other contagions around like doom and gloom? I know our attitudes can be affected by circumstances, both good and bad, but how’s your attitude most of the time? Are you happy with that? Is it time for an adjustment? Our homework assignment is to read Philippians 4. See how Paul’s attitude was impacted, not be circumstance, but by choice.

It could be action. Let’s do another reality check. On a scale of one to ten (‘10’ being “I get it right most of the time.” – ‘1’ being “I can’t get out of my own way” or “My friends call me Attila the Hun.”), how’s it going? Can people match your words and deeds with the faith you claim? They say Christians are the best advertisement for Christianity. They also say Christians are the worst advertisement for Christianity. Our homework assignment is to read Colossians 3:12-17. Paul has fashion advice worth following.

Let’s do one more reality check. Let’s be honest. Let’s be real. None of us is perfect. We all struggle; we all stumble. Thanks be to God; this is not about our perfection. By grace are we saved – that’s a really good thing because it wouldn’t happen any other way!

 

God is still working on us (Philippians 1:6). We should be working on us, too (Philippians 2:12-15). What a partnership! We don’t have to settle for inferior grades!