Strangely in all of this, God's time is usually slow. We are drowning, where is God to save us? We are chocking on the changes being thrust upon us, where is God with some rest and respite? We are moving as fast as we can and still falling behind, where is God to put the brakes on things so that we can catch up? Inevitably we end up conflicted. The pace of life seems to be something we can do nothing about and God's slowness to keep up only makes it harder and harder on us. At some point, I guess, we need to do something else.
For most of my ministry the pace has continued to increase. Now, without an second pastor and with a goodly number of long-time staff gone, the pace is maddening. It is as if the world has found my weakness and is trying to exploit it with all that it has to throw at me. I will admit to being more harried than usual but the strangest thing to me is that I am not as conflicted by things as I thought I would be and sometimes think I should be. Perhaps it has finally sunk into me that God's good will shall be done whether I want it or not. Like Luther taught us, we pray in this petition that God's will might be done among us. Right now that means refusing to surrender to the dizzying pace of things in the world and trying to keep one foot on the brake or the entire train of my life and work will go cruising off the tracks into the canyon.
I suspect I am not alone. We are in conflict more and more over the pace of things around us which we believe cannot change and God's refusal to act upon the world's timetable. It is nothing new. How many times did the enemies of Jesus have Him set up and ready to be seized but Jesus walked through the crowds or something else happened and Jesus slipped away. Our Lord refused to let the world define His schedule. He set His face to go to Jerusalem and meet His saving destiny upon the cross but He did so on HIS schedule. Could it be that the Church should begin to unschedule so many things that have crept up on our calendar -- things good and salutary except for the fact that they cause us more upset, conflict, and fear than the good they are designed to do? I suspect I am also not alone in wondering if we need to clear the calendars to make sure the one thing needful is seen, understood, and applied in our daily lives. Otherwise we are simply letting the world define us and what we ought to be doing instead of God showing us what must be done and what our time is given to us to do.
If people want to do them, fine. But from time to time I wonder if it is not good to review our calendars and decide whether we must do them. After my mother's death, I noticed that the pace of my little home town in Nebraska was calmer than what I was accustomed to. Even the calendar on the church bulletin was thinner. That is not a bad thing. Maybe we ought to learn how to do it. There are probably more Marthas in this world than Marys -- more people stressed by the many things that could be, should be, or might be done than focused on the one thing needful. So hold one another accountable lest the world keep increasing the speed until we crash and cry out to God, Lord, where were You? God is where He always is. We are the ones who are moving so fast we have lost our bearings.
Teach me, O Lord, not to hold on to life too tightly. Teach me to hold it lightly; not carelessly, but lightly, easily. Teach me to take it as a gift, to enjoy and cherish while I have it, and to let go gracefully and thankfully when the time comes. For the gift is great, but the Giver greater still. You are the Giver, O Lord, and in You is the life that never dies; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen