Sunday, January 07, 2018

Slowing Down

Let me share a recent thought from my daughter Cynthia, who now has two little girls, ages 2 and 6 months. She posted this note on her instagram account yesterday:

God showed up today in a thousand tiny ways. He was there in the good humor and camaraderie of colleagues working early into the morning on a last minute filing. He was there in the spouse who selflessly let me sleep in. He was there in the conversation amongst friends who came to eat barbecue and then ate pretend food served to them by a toddler. And of course, he was there in the curiosity, the gratitude, and the unbridled Joy of our children. Days like this are unremarkable as you live them, but when you spend a few minutes in the quiet, looking back, you see a steady presence of something holy. Something both within you and those around you, but something distinct- a Someone.

And I wonder if days like this aren’t microcosms of our whole lives lived well. Time meanders slowly along, until suddenly, you find yourself at the end, looking back. And you discover that you were never all alone. You were quietly sustained, guided, and filled by something loving and wise and real and good—a Someone. And all criticisms levied against this Presence, all characterizations of it as a philosophy or a mythology or a pipe dream, melt away against the indisputable evidence of a life lived with joy and truth.

We live in a world that is hectic. One of the best lines in the Shawshank Redemption, a movie full of good lines, is when Brooks, in jail for over 50 years, finally gets released on parole and can’t keep pace with the world that has changed so dramatically . Bewildered, he says “The world has gotten itself into a big *dang* hurry.”

Brooks is right! The problem, of course, is that we rarely slow down enough to notice  things—to notice God’s subtle presence in our lives.  He doesn’t often manifest himself in a big booming voice, or some miraculous event such as the parting of the Red Sea. He comes instead as the “still, small voice” (I Kings 19:12)—through our friends, through our parents and siblings, through our teachers, in ordinary, everyday things.  If we can slow ourselves down enough, if we can allow ourselves to be silent more often, we may be able to better sense God’s presence, all around us.

One of the things of which I am convinced is that God respects our freedom. He’s never going to shout at us. He’s never going to DEMAND that we follow him, or that we listen to him. Most of the time, he whispers.

There is a secular tradition in this country—a good one, I think—to make “New Year’s Resolutions.” The top 5 for 2018 according to various places on the Internet are: 1) Spend more time with family and friends;  2) Exercise more ; 3) Lose weight 4) Quit smoking and 5) Enjoy life more.

Nothing wrong with those! But let me suggest an additional one—for all of you, for me, for our teachers and staff:

Slow down enough at least once a day to time to notice all the good things God has done for us that day and thank him for it. The more thankful we are, the more we become aware of his many gifts to us, even in the ordinariness of our lives.

Happy New Year!

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