The longer my days, the faster the pace seems to be.
When I was in elementary school, it seemed as though Christmas only came every five years. One day in Miss Fannie Liddell’s first grade class was like a life sentence. It’s no wonder that I took the first available opportunity to slip out of a ground level window and join my dog Buddy for my version of the Great Escape. It was great fun, hitting the pause button and fleeing the busyness of the first grade classroom. When I was captured and returned to my prison cell, the fun was over.
My need to pause now and again and find some peace and quiet in the great outdoors obviously began that fateful day in first grade at the Brandon Elementary School. To this day, when things get really overwhelming, I find peace when I pause for a few hours in the great outdoors. Out in God’s grand cathedral of the great outdoors, there is time to think, to pray, to focus on what really matters and recharge all the batteries, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Robert Lewis Dabney, Southern Presbyterian theologian, 1820-1898, once wrote an article about the need for Christian meditation, of pausing to escape our busy schedules and just spend some time alone with God. He wrote, “The Christian life must have its seasons of quietude and calm meditation. Too much of even a religious bustle is unwholesome for the soul. Time must be allowed in sacred seasons for divine truth to steep the heart with its influence. Our hurry and externality has impoverished our graces. Solitude is essential to the health of the soul. Is not our modern life far too hurried? Surely we are in too much haste to be rich; we are too strange to self-communion; our very education is too stimulating and mercenary; and while we degrade the heavenly minister, science, to material uses, we teach our young men to forget that the true, the beautiful, and the good are in themselves the happy heritage of the soul. The clangor of our industry and the dust and glare of our skill have repelled the heavenly Dove and exhaled the dews of his grace out of our life. How woeful is the waste of our holiness and happiness by this mistake! Let us, then, learn to commune with our own hearts and be still." *
Dabney's comments were brought to my attention first thing on a Monday morning by my friend and fellow pastor, Caleb Cangelosi, Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland. His website, the Log College Press, provides a daily pause that refreshes my soul with quotes, articles and books from pastors and teachers mainly of the 19th and 20th Centuries.
At the beginning of another week packed with appointments and responsibilities, not to mention sermons and Sunday school lessons, I was beginning to feel the weight of a very busy schedule when the above quote came to my inbox. As I read Dabney's comments, I was reminded of how thankful I am for those godly people in my life, present and past, who remind me to keep the most important thing the most important thing.
What is that thing? It is my personal relationship with God. If I’m not spiritually healthy, how can I help others when they need an encouraging word, a prayer for a rough time in their life, an illness or a death?
I hear the joke often: pastors only work one day a week. Sadly, far too many pastors work every day of the week. It isn’t healthy. It isn’t right, and I confess my guilt. While some pastors wisely take a particular day of the week off, I have a problem with saying no. I love people and want to help everyone I can, but when I am overwhelmed by being too busy to pause, I am not actually much help at all to anyone. For this reason, I try to take off a few hours here and there to get alone with God in a deer stand and enjoy the quiet time with God.
I hope you also will take time when you’re too busy to pause and get alone with God. That truly is the pause that refreshes.
Believing that some quite time alone with God on a regular basis is the key to handling your busy schedule may be a long shot for some of you, but whatever you do, don’t be afraid to go with the long shots. Live life to its fullest every minute and be ready!
Rev. Richard Wiman is the pastor of First
Presbyterian Church in Belzoni and an
accomplished, much-published writer.
* Discussions (Theological and Evangelical), Vol. 1 (1890), pp. 652-653