Breathe

The assignments are piled up. There’s that essay due at the end of the month that’s casting a dark shadow over your consciousness; you attempt to push it to the recesses of your mind. You know you could be studying right now, or getting started on that pamphlet you have to read…and then there’s that presentation you have to work on…

No. Stop. Breathe.

And then you suddenly realize that by the time you finally take a break, night has already fallen, and you have lost the opportunity to bask in the gently falling snow that covers the barren earth with its soothing cadence. That opportunity has vanished; it’s gone. You’ve lost it. “There will be other snows,” you remind yourself, “there will be other sunsets, other laughs, other moments to scoop up your bunny and hold him close. There will be other times for telling your mother you love her or for writing your inmost thoughts in your journal. You can pray once you have your life put in order; God understands how much you have to get done. You can finish that painting later. The sky will always be there, your family will always be there…”

If this describes you (it certainly describes me), then it’s time to take a breather and meditate on what you’ve just told yourself. There will be others snows? Yes, but not this one. How do you know that you will be alive to savor that new sunset? And if you keeping suppressing that palliative, boisterous laugh until it’s more convenient, well…it just might never come. You put off that hug one more time, but it might be one time too much. The sky will always be here? Maybe, but time changes things; you will never look at the sky quite the same way twice. You change; life sweeps you along and before you realize it, you’re at the end… And your family? Your loved ones? I hate to break it to you, but they’re not going to be here forever…

Why is it that we have such a hard time resting? Meditating? Basking? I don’t mean a lazy refusal to acknowledge your duties, but I do mean the ability to keep tasks in their place. Why are we here on earth anyways? To get 100% on every assignment and be working machines who suck in facts and regurgitate information? No, no, that’s not right – we’re robots who count up our popularity votes and strive to be the smartest, the most diligent, the most hard-working…

Let me make this clear: life is not about doing. Life is not about your school transcript or your community service record. It’s not (gasp) about your grades. It’s not about your ability to impress others with your brilliance. It isn’t even about the healthiness of your lifestyle or the fitness of your body. It’s about Christ.

Do you remember this story from Luke 10?

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

In the King James Version, distracted is translated as “cumbered.” The Greek word is perispaō and means: To draw around, to draw away, distract; to be driven about mentally, to be distracted; to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing (blueletterbible.org). Do you catch the full implications of this word? Martha, like so many of us, is literally drawn away from Christ because of her preoccupation with material things. Her to-do list is dragging her mind on a mental horse-race and distracting her from what truly matters – Jesus Christ.

This isn’t to say that tasks aren’t important and that we should all eschew our various duties. God makes it clear that laziness is not tolerated in the Kingdom (2 Thess. 3:7-8, 1 Tim. 5:13). However, if we become so absorbed in all our doing that we neglect our true calling – to know Christ and to make Him known, then all our works are fruitless.

So take time today to love on those around you. Sing that merry little song that has been hovering hopefully about your soul, too frightened to squeeze out. Praise God for the glorious majesty of that sunset. Let the freshly falling snow light upon your nose. Let yourself dream those dreams that you’ve hitherto deigned impractical. Thank God for the bountiful blessings which He has so generously showered upon you. And most importantly – pray.

 

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