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Fast- Slow

Confession time…
I don’t know how to slow down. My family would tell you that I can’t ‘just sit.’ I must be doing something… always something. There is always something to do… there is always something that I ‘need’ to do. Or at least that’s how it feels. I have been moving at a fast pace through life as long as I can remember. I am not complaining mind you, just confessing. Most of the time, I like the pace of my life. It suits me. And for better or for worse, I have raised a family of young adults who live that fast-paced life, along with most of their generation and mine. We work long hours, and then we fill our leisure time with so many activities that real leisure is lost along the way.

When was the last time you ‘just sat?’ When was the last time you paused long enough to have a leisurely conversation about nothing- everything, with no real agenda or purpose except to spend time together? We are a people on a mission even when we have no idea what the mission is… we just keep moving and so do our children. They move from the demands of school to the rigors of sports to the engagement of social time, with little to no rest in between. How many of our children eat in the car while they are going from one activity to another? My busy generation has passed our pace of life on to our children and our grandchildren, with each generation increasing in pace and activity. Recently, I have been talking with parents and youth about being a part of the 2023-24 Genesis cohort. [Genesis is a one-year class that explores the basics of the Christian faith, inviting youth to a personal relationship with Jesus.] It will be an exciting year of fellowship, fun and faith exploration that will impact the rest of their lives. But I find myself begging for a slot in busy calendars, as if our faith journey should have to compete with soccer. How did it happen that we have become too busy for Jesus?

Last week, I travelled down to Belize to serve with Bold Hope. Like with everything else, I worked long hours getting our team ready for the trip, each detail painstakingly considered. Our hope as a team was to accomplish something meaningful for the people in Georgetown, Belize. Our work ranged from building the foundation of a church, to painting a Health Post in the hopes of enticing a doctor to come to the area to provide medical care, to making visits in Belizean homes to bring comfort and basic care, to leading Vacation Bible School in two different elementary schools. We were a determined bunch. Day one we saw the need and we set our sights to getting the work ‘done.’

We are such Americans in our approach to life- busy, determined, goal-focused, so it was a bit confusing when our Belizean Mission Trip leader told our American team to “slow down.” One team member responded, “We can’t slow down, we have work to do.” Yet, he kept reminding us that we were in Belize for more than just the work. Enter George… a man well-worn by the struggles of poverty. He had a story to tell, and when we paused to hear his story, we were all changed by the witness of what God has done for him. Enter two little children… unsupervised, and oh so dirty, but they were eager to help paint. Our American sensibility was to send them away because they were slowing down the work, but our Belizean leader remined us that the children were more important than putting paint on walls. So, the children were invited to be part of the paint crew with the resulting mess that was inevitable. Those children are now a part of our hearts. Enter a group of school children and a soccer ball… our youth and young adults were charged with the responsibility of providing ‘games’ for our VBS. At the end of each ‘game’ session the real purpose of their time in Belize would emerge as the children would cuddle up in their arms. Our fast-paced American team was invited again and again to slow down and notice what is truly important- God’s people.  

I will admit that I hit the ground running when our plane touched down in Philadelphia early Sunday morning. Just a few hours later I was in the pulpit preaching. Today- Tuesday- is Day-two of Push the Rock Sports Camp at LVC, so life keeps moving at that fast pace. But tonight, I want to sit and enjoy a good meal and a long conversation about whatever… The Psalmist says, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) I am trying to learn what our Belizean friends understand at the core of their being- to slow down and smell the flowers and notice the people. I am not good at that, but I plan to try…

With you learning from God’s people,
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