While sailing at sea my wife and I tried to get in a walk each day. As we did so I was struck by how the direction and speed with which we walked created a clear picture of another life lesson. If we walked in the same direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were making more and faster progress than we really were. On the other hand, when we got to the other side and walked opposite the direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were losing ground with each step. It seemed that for every step forward we went backwards 2 or 3. On this side of the ship all I could think of was the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” The image that came to mind was trying to walk up a down escalator. (1)
Have you ever felt that way? That you’re getting nowhere fast – that for every step forward you are taking 2 backward? That instead of gaining ground you’re losing ground? That the faster you go the further you get behind? The harder you try the wearier you become. Yet, you hesitate to stop or slow down for fear you’ll not complete your task on time, if at all. And the strength fades as the fatigue sets in. What to do?
Not surprisingly, the Bible has an answer. The wise preacher declared, “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is not our speed through life that counts. It’s our efficiency and strength – managing our body and soul well. When the losing ground feelings arise it’s time to slow down. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:8). God is saying, “Slow down. Stop. Let go. I’m here to help.”
Certainly God knows whereof He speaks! Recall what happened after 6 days of creating the world: “… on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) What’s good for God is good and necessary for us. So God addressed the need for and importance of rest when He laid down His 10 commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11) God repeated the command often – as in Exodus 31:15 (Good News Translation): “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me.” (2)
It only stands to reason, then, that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath Day but also disciplined Himself to rest. Often he withdrew from the crowds and disciples to a mountain in order to rest and pray. He also wanted His disciples to develop the habit of resting. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31) Jesus also invited us to develop this ‘rest discipline’. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
So when you’re going up that down escalator remember: Slow Down! Stop! Let Go! Get in the habit of not only setting aside the Sabbath day weekly, but beyond that, set aside some portion of each day.
Try taking time to pray this prayer:
“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations of slowing down; to look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one; to pet a stray dog; to watch a spider build a web; to smile at a child; or to read a good book. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.”
Then when you run you’ll run faster, when you step ahead your steps will be farther apart and your strength will be greater. And it will be amazing where you’ll go and what you’ll get done in the strength of Jesus.
Keep in mind what lies ahead: I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.” (Revelation 14:13)
(1) Creator: Einar Kling-Odencrants — Copyright:x-default .