Just stopping and actually stopping.
This morning I am off on a short trip to Minnesota to attend graduation for my Master’s Degree. It is a culmination of many hours of reading, writing and more reading. In all, I would say that this experience has been a real stretching time for me. I have often joked that my life wasn’t crazy enough so I added more work to it. Then there were the days when I wished I could just stop doing school work because I was exhausted.
As I was packing my bags, I was reflecting with my wife about how our lives can be divided into certain chapters. It is as if each of the chapters of life are completely different from the other ones.
Chapter 1- Childhood – This seems like a whole different life. There are times when memories of something come to me, but for the most part a lot of this is a foggy mess. I have some great memories of this time, if I actually remember them that is.
Chapter 2- College – I remember my first days of college and what that was like. I remember the collect calls to my parents because I didn’t have a cell phone. I remember that strange feeling of being on my own. It is a mixture of excitement and terror. There are many unknowns in college, but I was assured I was where God wanted me to be.
Chapter 3- Marriage/New Family- I got married right before my last year of college. I have told some of this story in the Sunday Series posts titled “life lessons.” One year later we had our first child. That time in our life had its own unique rhythm to it. I drove school bus and worked in the shop as a mechanic. We had less responsibility because once I was done with work I didn’t have to think about it again until the next day. At this point in our life we were not where we were intending to be, but we were making out way there.
Chapter 4- Transitions This is when the whole process of ministry started for us. We had the accreditation process, interviews and a lot of waiting. Then we ended up going to a church and experiencing some struggle there. We were not there long, but now we have been at the current church for over 5 years. Which I suppose means we are in a more stable period of life in that sense, but in a crazy, labor intensive period in another sense. (did I mention I have four kids now)
There are probably better ways to divide these periods out. But, the thing that strikes me is how much of it just feels like it is racing by. There are times when we might wish to be in a different phase because the kids are up early or are needing a lot of attention. But, as I look back I realize that there are things that I miss about those earlier days.
For me it all comes down to stopping and paying attention. There will never be a time in life when everything will be perfect. There will never be a time when something couldn’t get better or when the grass on the other side doesn’t appear to be greener. The funny thing that I have learned is that my life might not be perfect in the sense that I would like, but it is perfectly arranged for me. The grass might appear to be greener, but it really isn’t as green as it is looking.
The best place for me is where I am. That means not getting ahead of time and trying to plan too much out. It also means not living in the past. I need to be right here, right now.
So, as I travel today, a lot of these memories come to mind. There are many pieces of those other times in my life that was so unique. Yet, I don’t long to be there again. I long to enjoy the time I have right now, knowing that one day it will all be over. When I stand before my Lord, I want to hear that I have done well and not that I have squandered the time I have been given chasing some dream that was never intended for me.
So, if I can be of encouragement to you today, let me encourage you to take some time to stop and notice what actually consists of your life. Stop and appreciate the people in your life. But even more than that, just stop and listen to the whisper of God. He might have something to say to you, but in order to hear it you need to stop.