So the two girls came running to me, hand in hand, and gasping for air, they asked for permission if they could ride the horses together…these two girls are cousins-born-sisters, and I’m sure they would spend every waking moments talking if they could, and they leaped happy when I nodded to them with a big yes grin.
Internally, I could feel my own pulse quickening, – I am looking for something to do, my own internal circuitry beeping, a type A personality they say, when you feel kinda awkward to relax, even on holidays like this.
Transported into a different world, finding myself at a leisurely place, I had asked myself this: “What would it take to make this, a superb holiday, a real getaway?”
We had been busy. A family with a whirlwind of activities. And we had flown out. And the world’s been clamouring noisy that morning with the news of the Oregon shooting, the gunman rounding up all his victims asking for a profession of their faith before shooting them.
In a place of breathless pounding and plaguing fear – where is our soul’s true rest?
I had swallowed the news like I would swallow my bitterest pill. Numbed all sensations and take it in with gulps of water. Take it quick. Swallow it deep. No thinking about it, no sugar icing it.
I felt it was too late for my heart to slow now and take all the beauty of this holiday in. It’s easier to hear tragic news like that and sorta fly through them – not think too much about them, numb those questions and not grapple through the hard issues of life – only that, when you do that, you become dead to all the other gifts that come with life and living.
All my life, I had become addicted to speed – one more thing to do, one more chore to tackle, one more project to finish, one more victory to belt – except that in a place like this, there was no need for all that – and I find myself in a quandary of space – where do I stand, what do I believe?
Doesn’t the more of life make the more of us? Doing more and being busy, perpetually moving and constantly rushing – don’t they help make up for the losses we often feel in life? I have memorised this over and over my whole life, that what I conditioned myself to do – I can accomplish – really?
Is busyness really the new social norm that people feel they must conform to, or risk being outcasts? Or is busyness a facade that we feel we must wear to hide inner hollowness, inside shallowness and internal hurts and pains?
So that night the kids held a talent show – got us adults acting as judges and got everyone impersonating everyone else. Everyone was belly laughing and I could hardly have enough of this – joy. I tried capturing moments, I tried remembering memories.
Somehow… in moments like these, time seems to slow and my soul’s brought to a place of rest, and I am crying for a reason to believe. Away from its own scheduling, far from its own restrictions, I asked myself if we could really trust in the God who says He is all good.
The kids trailed my sister and trekked paths to a river. I followed them behind and I am trying to be all here…
All here and not disengaged, not distracted not internally disintegrated. Because any previous preoccupations, any worries of potential problems, any fear of future frictions really have the potential of stopping us short from enjoying God’s presence in the moment.
Isn’t life made up of these moments? Not the accumulation of things…not the climbing of some pinnacles…but just little gifts like these?
I am so often Martha – martyred to the myriads of work, craving for achievements away from devotion. But seriously, can life become all about obligations and responsibility that we become dangerously thirsty for something soul-satisfying, something that a crisis like this can trigger?
In places remote like these, times seem to blur into one giant sleuth and nature’s calling me to rest. The notion of time as I have known it disappears, all lines blurring into one.
I remember and take to heart the words of Pastor Michael Koh, a friend and talented writer and speaker, who wrote in his book Healing Your Internal Clock these words:
“Stopping is a grace that God provides in the face of a fast approaching chariots of time. Our healing and transformation begins only when God arrests our movement….Often we must be stopped, so we can behold the One who stopped in front of us and calls us down to sup with Him. When we experience dissonance with time, that is our invitation to stop and be healed.”
A dissonance with time? Could God be stopping us so that we can be healed?
Perhaps our internal need to rush is reminding us about the truth of worship? Because when we work ourselves out of a position of worship, we carry burdens that become too heavy for our souls, and plaque ourselves with thoughts that are too lofty to carry.
We become blinded to the “one thing necessary” – worship to God. Because really, worship is not for God but for us. It is in worshipping God through the good and the bad that we learn He is good, all the time.
And this Jesus? He’s saying to Martha and the rest of us productive producers all over the world, that only one thing is needed? Really, if there is only one thing needed out of our life today, then would it be to enter into His presence, and let Christianity become real that it sips into the blood and bones and becomes our key, primal instinct?
The cynic in me jeered at the thought of pausing to worship – as if it is in the resting that things get done, in the sitting at His feet that the world’s crying needs get met.
I want to work to produce. I need to ruminate to control. I want to determine the outcome of events. But our hurried heart, our worried minds – aren’t they the very same precipice for not being able to be fully alive, to fully trust?
A culture fascinated by speed, a generation obsessed with everything that’s immediately accessible, we set our whole lives up to accomplish just one more thing. And this whole issue with keeping up with the Joneses and the fear of being left out makes us easy social media preys. So we rush. So we run. So we hurry. And in the process we lose. And we break. And we miss.
Pastor Koh further wrote:
“For the works of God to be realised, there must be a rhythm and a pace with which we move that is in keeping with His moving…the one dimensional emphasis on speed and covering distance forces a pace that does not allow the manifold grace of God to be experienced. The rush to do more in a shorter time prevents us from dwelling in the present. It militates us against ‘opening the moment’,…making our learning superficial.”
This sanctum of our heart needs to be protected from the noises outside. The fear outside needs to be put to rest with the answer the Word provides. And the moment of fullness will truly be realised as we keep in pace with God.
I want to remove my shoes and worship God – right there, next to the waterfall. I want to count all of His goodness and faithfulness, stay in the path of remembrance, the path of trusting. I want to say to self and sing it to my ear – Our God’s Not Dead.
That night, when I saw cousins huddling together enjoying their reading, Mum finding delight in making supper, and brothers and sisters lingering around as if time never ends, I bent my knee and I whispered, “Thank you God for this gift of time and space – and the fact that we are together and the truth that You are good, and that time will never end in Your hands as we stand at the brink of eternity…”
Because,the truth of the matter is – the perfect rest for our overworked soul isn’t found in a place, but in a Person.