Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Slow Down

And so it begins. That raucous pace with which we enter and navigate through the holiday season is upon us. I have been experiencing it in full force lately even as I have wondered what happened to the Fall. Since Advent starts this coming Sunday, we are into Christmas music starting this week. I had a rehearsal last night and we began to wade into Christmas music with “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” It’s actually a fairly fascinating story to read about the genesis of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, you should check it out sometime.
On the way home from rehearsal, as I went through my “TO DO” list in my mind, my window, for the second time in a week, got stuck in the down position amidst the rain. I had already spent $500 on it last week and was not looking forward to having to be carless for another day while I waited for the mechanic to fix what should have been fixed a week ago. I’m not a big fan of things not getting done right the first time, so I was a little frustrated.

As I drove home, thinking and saying words that I never should have, I began to play through my day today. I had already had a number of things to get done and now the mechanic would need to be a detour that I was not welcoming. I chose to forego schoolwork in favor of a good night sleep and went to bed early. With a cold/sinus infection in full force, it seemed like the right choice. I awoke in the middle of the night, stressed about the disruption of my schedule today. How would I ever get everything done? Would I be able to?

Feeling somewhat well-rested this morning, I drove to the mechanic, praying that I would maintain my testimony as a pastor and disciple of Christ when I got there. I fought all of my urges to speak my mind and simply replied, “Pretty bad” when the gentleman behind the desk asked me how I was doing. Hey, I’ve got to be honest, right? Thinking that it was a smart thing to arrive early, I soon realized that although they opened at 7, none of the mechanics seemed to be there until about 8. So, I waited for about an hour before they even brought the car into the bay. Frustration continues.

As I thought about it, I really began to wonder what kind of a test this might be. Every holiday season, I find myself preaching the message of slowing down, taking it all in, and remembering what the purpose of these holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, is. It’s not Black Friday. It’s not consumerism. It’s really about thankfulness, family, and redemption. It’s about remembering what we have been given and not taking it for granted. It’s about a gift that was given that we could never replicate, replace, or contrive on our own.

Maybe this detour was God’s way of telling me to “SLOW DOWN” instead of running rampantly into the season. As I sit here at my desk, I can hear the wind blowing outside my open window. The sky is gray and it will probably rain later. The church is fairly quiet as most of the school children have gone home and the office is officially “closed.” I’ve probably forgotten to do something important, but I imagine that it will have to wait. I am taking advantage of the peace and solitude that can be experienced in this moment. The silence of these few minutes is a salve for my wounded and weary soul. I have been tired, frustrated, worn-out, sick, grieving, stressed, short-tempered, and spiritually thirsty. These moments are the exact moments that I have been waiting for. When life becomes hectic and fast-paced, it’s amazing what a few brief moments can do to recharge the soul.

Even as I think forward to Black Friday, I can’t help but laugh at the irony that a day that is supposed to be a good thing for consumers is termed “Black Friday.” Not necessarily the most encouraging of names, a fairly bleak name, but I guess if we consider that consumerism is a fairly bleak path to be on, it sort of makes sense.

Before your holidays get under way, before you make your list of things to hunt for on Black Friday, take some time to write down the things for which you are thankful. Those few moments of reflection will be good for your soul, and chances are, the things you write down will be around much longer than whatever deals you might find on Black Friday.

Here’s my list:

My Family – wife, kids, Dad, brother, extended family

My God – grace-filled and loving

My Freedom – it’s never really free

My Job

My Health

There’s a whole lot more, but that stands as a fairly good top 5 list. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent season!

1 comment:

  1. hey, thanks bro. i needed that. i spoke to you that morning as you waited for your car and thought of you often that day. i am happy to know that i am on your list of things that you give thanks for and want you to know you are mine as well. these next weeks will be hard but we will surely emerge in the new year with a strength that neither of us expected to gain from 2011 and ALL of its challenges. chin up, eyes forward and one foot in front of the other. i love you.