Monday, August 23, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

I think God has been sending me some major hints the past few months. When the lyrics in your life start fitting together to create a soundtrack, take heed. Ignore at your peril. I'm about to share with you all the soundtrack I've started hearing and if it strikes a chord with you, I urge you to take a good long moment to sort out the music from the noise.

It all started at the beginning of the summer. You remember how Jesus told stories in parables in the Bible? He spoke this way so that his disciples would understand radical principles because he had likened them to earthly concepts that they could relate to. Jesus told me a parable while I was driving my daughters back from a park. It was a gorgeous sunny summer day, and we were driving down a scenic, winding road, nice and slow. The windows were down and the radio was playing; it was even a song Abi knew and we were singing together. Soon enough we met up with the highway. I accelerated onto the on-ramp, and as we got up to speed, the noise of the traffic drowned out the song on the radio. We tried to keep singing along, but I realized after a few lines that we were not keeping up with the song. I don't claim to always be listening for God's voice in my life (for reasons to be explained), but I must have been listening this day. Suddenly the seemingly meaningless events that had just taken place fit together in a personal parable for my life.

I could see my life as a drive down a scenic, winding road. The "radio" I sing along with is actually God - His voice in my heart, the Holy Spirit's urges, the moments that speak life. Some songs I know really well. Maybe they're truths I learned as a child or scripture I memorized. Some songs I don't know at all; they're new truths or words that God reveals to me day by day. Then life speeds up. I get caught up with all the events around me; I pack too much into my day. I race among the other cars, all with a purpose, a drive, a destination that seems so very important. And the radio fades into the cacophony of this rat race. God's voice becomes harder to discern, and I can really only hear it if I hear "familiar chords" of a song I already know. My first inclination is to merely turn up the volume of the radio! But I know it doesn't work like that. God's voice is often in the gentle whisper; He doesn't scream to get our attention. He waits for us to listen to Him.

I was astounded by this parallel and told a lot of people this story. Everyone agreed that this is SO RIGHT - our lives are too fast, and we can't hear God's gentle whisper through the roar of life. Wow, right on! Don't you love it when God speaks?!

And life went on as usual. I started a study on grace with some friends of mine in July. I was realizing that I couldn't handle all the irons in my fire, all the balls in my airspace, all the stuff on my plate. I was realizing I needed to understand and ask for more of God's grace in my life. And wouldn't you know it, a sermon on grace popped up at that moment. Wow, what an amazing coincidence. Since I don't believe in amazing coincidences, I immediately recognized God's timing. God wants me to heed this - let the message of grace take root. Wow, right on! Don't you love it when God speaks?!

And life went on as usual. August has been (and will be) a mad rush of birthdays and weddings and parties and play dates and lakes and vacations, vacations, vacations. I've heard myself praying, "God I need more of your grace today!" over and over again. This last weekend, my amazing mother-in-law asked if there was anything I needed prayer for. I said I am looking for a better understanding of grace in my life. She prayed for me, but then she gave some advice straight from heaven to me. She said, "God is pleased with you. God wants to fill you up, and you don't have to do anything for it - just come to His throne and sit. Don't say anything, just sit and be quiet before Him. He will give you everything you need." I have to admit, at this point I started seeing a persisting theme through my summer. I am doing too much, it's making my life too crazy, it's making me spiritually deaf. Thanks, Cynthia. Wow, right on. Don't you love it when God speaks?! went on as usual. Well at least as usual as 2 days can be. Then today happened. A normal day with a list a mile long of chores I wanted done. But I'm a woman, I multi-task! So while I washed the dishes, I fired up the laptop to listen to Focus on the Family. I found a program that looked interesting and added it to my playlist and started listening. As the program began, I looked up from the sink, puzzled. This didn't sound like the program I had selected. I went over to look at the playlist, and although the program I had selected was highlighted on top, it was not the one that was playing. Instead it was a program on clergy burnout. Well, this is an irrelevant topic! I'm not a clergyman in danger of burnout! And I was just about to delete it when a few lines popped up about "hectic schedules" and "being too busy" and "having no time to rest." I almost dropped the dish I was holding, because (I'll admit) I was a little creeped out at this point. Humbly I returned to the sink to listen to what I concluded was a lecture hand-picked by my loving Father. It tied every rhythm and rhyme together into a beautiful rhapsody. Come to Me all who are weary and burdened. And I will give you rest. I make you lie down in green pastures, I lead you beside quiet waters. I restore your soul. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. My summer opus: Slow Down.