Monday, November 22, 2010

Stopping to Smell the Roses

Strange title...

So today one of my classes ended up praying for a staff member here on campus. The Spirit empowered folks and there were numerous scriptures, songs, and words of wisdom.

I'm sure there are those of you out there who think I'm mental or those of you who are respectfully Dispensationalist, Cessationalist, Atheist, Catharist and I know some of you would disagree with me strongly. Though in this prayer time I learned something, and I would very much like to share with you.

How to begin as always is the tricky issue. So naturally I'm going to go with what I know: hiking reference. :)

In life we have trials and hard times, some which are loads of fun, unremarkable and others that are absolutely abhorrent.

Hiking is very similar sometimes. With respect to the difficult times which God uses to grow us. In trials and difficulties we will mature (James 1:2), and God does this because he loves us.

But this man in particular expressed the feeling like God was kicking him around.

Through this trial I got the impression that this guy was rushing through this season of his life. When praying for him an image of the Merced River below El Capitan in Yosemite popped into my head and a connection was made.

Who doesn’t want a rough season in life to end quickly? Who doesn’t want to go from a middling season to a better one? Even in the good seasons we may blow on through because we either don’t realize the place we are in is good or we feel there is something better is ahead. We may even quit and give up because there is elsewhere we want to be.

Much in this way, people who hike long and hard and are breaking down. They are running out of steam just because they want to get the place they are at over with, or move on somewhere else

In truth this can actually break you down faster when hiking. You keep pushing you don’t stop to eat and nourish yourself; you don’t stop to clean yourself, to recharge.

We tend to have the mentality that these seasons are so bad that there is nothing here that will benefit us.

In the good seasons we don’t stop to enjoy and learn about the place we are in because we are expecting something better up ahead. We are so busy climbing a mountain that you don’t stop and take in the view.

In the rough and bad you move so fast that you don’t learn from your mistakes, or you don’t remember the way you came and you get lost in this bad place. Even the bad times can have their own beauty through the pain and suffering can bring insight and reveal beauty in ways unexpected.

We don’t value “stopping to smell the roses” so to speak.

In good times we don’t take it in, and be rested be comforted and we charge into a place where we don’t want to be and we are caught unawares because we are so wasted by the fast journey.

In middling times we don’t appreciate the balance or the beauty that is available to us.

In bad times we don’t learn, so we can’t warn others. We may even miss the beauty of how God brought us out of it.

As a day hiker I’m usually averted to stopping and just enjoying the place I’m at. I sometimes am mentally elsewhere so I quit or rush through the process because I’m not focused.

The best way I can describe this is the water dynamic. In hiking when you are in a mountain place or other wilderness you feel kind of disjointed from it even when you are in it because we set timeframes and hope to be out of there by a certain time.
We are conscientious observers nothing else.

But when you stop and engage the place climb a rock you didn’t plan to climb take a break from a stream and drink from it soak your feet. You gain a sense of oneness and reality of the place you are in. You are no longer rushing through you are taking things in stride. It shows you that you are not above the situation.

This is something people who get lost fail to do. They are in denial and keep thinking the car the camp or whatever is just around the corner and they get themselves further away and they get to a place with no landmarks they feel that they are in control and they will figure stuff out.

As Christians it is of sorts a failure to trust God.

“God I’ve got this, I will persevere through this situation.” Even “I will dedicate myself to you, I will figure out a way.”

That is too many “I’s”. Ultimately it’s unscriptural (from the Greek perspective so many of the Greek words that indicate our salvation or our sanctification or our redemption are in the passive voice which indicates an inability on our behalf to do… well… like pretty much anything for our eternal benefit).

We transcend that which we are hopelessly immersed in. We fail to acknowledge our God-given limits (that’s right God limits us)  ;)

We wonder why there are so many references in the Psalms to God as our spring, or spring of life,  etc.

In living dying let me bring, my strength and solace from the spring - Aaron Shust

Also at issue here is our thinking. I can’t tell you how many hikes, homework assignments and assorted obligations I’ve quit because I kept dwelling on where else I could be; or how much better another thing was. We see this dynamic kill us with regards to going to the gym ;) .

C. S. Lewis greatly adds to this:

“A more Christian attitude, which can be attained at any age, is that of leaving futurity in God’s hands. We may as well, for God will certainly retain it whether we leave it to Him or not. Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment ‘as to the Lord.’” - C. S. Lewis "Learning in War-Time" 
The first time I ever thought that I would be able to hike over ten miles was when I threw aside my desire to be fast and decided to enjoy the process. I would get to the top at my own pace, which kindled a love for hiking that has burned in me since I was able to realize that it was feasible.

In these seasons we should not fail to recognize the beauty and value and lessons from trials in every season. We should not be above our situations and soberly judge our circumstances for the benefit of the kingdom and educating others to protect them from making the same mistakes. But simultaneously we must guard our minds and slow down to prevent burnout and be at peace. Lean on God and focus on tasks at hand.

Joseph Gregory

Selection from Lewis'  book "The Weight of Glory".

Where breath reaches an impasse, the old-self dies and the new self is raised…

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