Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.’ — Jeremiah 2:25
When I read this today, I couldn’t help but flinch a little. It was as if God were speaking to me directly. “Slow down.” It has been a stretch of busyness and stress – all of my own doing. Saying “no” is something I urge others to do but often fail to do myself. So, here I am, slowing down.
It was actually a forced time of rest – sort of. I’m taking a train today and have five hours of uninterrupted rest, relaxation, and prayer. I’ve never taken the train for a long distance before. It’s sort of like stepping back in time (minus the complimentary wifi, of course). I couldn’t help but let my imagination go when I first boarded. The conductor bellowed “all aboard” and folks were carrying their luggage (yes, actually carrying it because they didn’t have wheels). People were hugging each other good-bye right beside the train and then waving one final time as we pulled away from the station. I imagined how train rides must have been in the days when people dressed up to travel. Women in their fitted, floor length dresses and white gloves. Men in their suits and hats. It must have been quite the spectacle.
I’m a little jealous that those times are gone. Things seemed so much more relaxed during those days. Not the rush, rush, rush that defines our 24 hours. People were more respectful of each other, more caring and empathetic. Front porches were used for sitting and talking instead of just a place to walk across going to and from our cars. People waved at each other when passing by. The offer of assistance was always on the tip of every tongue. And the churches were always full. At least, that’s how it’s always been described to me.
But that’s not our story today. We are busy people, with lives that seem abundantly important. We stay connected electronically, letting our hundreds of “friends” know our every important minute. We voice our opinions and throw words of venom as we hide behind our glowing little screens. The dust builds up on our porches as we close the doors tightly to shut the world out. We no longer spend time talking with each other. We don’t go to church. We shut out community and the idea of real fellowship makes us pull the covers back over our heads. And we are all guilty of it at one time or another.
But God says, “slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?”
That’s really the question, isn’t it? What are you after anyway? I wonder that myself, sometimes – when I get so busy “doing” that I stop “being”. As I watch the world fly by while sitting on this train, I can’t help but wonder all of that and more. I know my calling but am I really fulfilling it? Am I doing all that I can to serve God in the way He called me? I don’t think I am.
John Wesley said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth.” That’s a tough statement. Honestly, there are other things that I fear. Other things that I worry about. And they are selfish things. Things that do not matter because they in no way lead others to Jesus Christ. So why do we get so wrapped up in the busyness of life and our own self-importance? Because it’s easier to have an illusion of control rather than the reality of surrender. It’s easier to say ‘yes’ to our own wants rather than saying ‘yes’ to God and His commands.
So for today, I’m slowing down. I’m taking a train ride that forces me to be still, take in the beauty of God’s creation, listen to the conversations around me, and act on His behalf. For today, that which I’m after is “my Lord and my God.”