The period at the end of a sentence. The stop sign at the corner. The inhale and the exhale. These are purposeful stops intended to keep us safe, to stop us from running into something we could have avoided or to help us to slow down and catch our breath.
Have you ever noticed that people who are constantly rushing all the time rarely get to where they are actually going or rarely achieve the deadlines they have set, on time. I am guilty. Setting a pace that we can’t keep up with and going constantly rarely gets us anywhere. What we are trying to achieve evades us! Too many times we operate as if someone has hit the fast forward button in our lives. We need to practise hitting the pause button.
Many things are always screaming for our attention. The important and the urgent are hard to separate it seems.
If we are to take our cue and example from Jesus, we see that Jesus was master of the pause and yet accomplished all He set out to do. It was Jesus’ practice to start with a pause, enter into busy and then pause again. His life’s rhythm was built on engagement and disengagement. Be alone with God. Be with people. Be alone with God.
How different would our lives look if we were intentional about pausing? Building regular pauses into our lives would help us to accomplish more in quantity and quality. I believe we would be more rested. We would be more relational. We would be more reliable. We would be more…fill in the blank. I know what you are going to say. It is hard to pause! Who has time to pause? I agree! But who has time not to pause? Our lives are flashing before us and we are missing too much. It is hard but it is vital. Only when we pause will be able to see where God is working in our lives, hear what He whispers, and truly live a full life.
Jesus is concerned about our busy. In Mark 6:31 Jesus says “…come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” In Matthew 11:28 Jesus again says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” The continuation of that scripture reminds us that He wants to make an exchange- His yoke for our burdens. I think no one would argue that Jesus was busy. But what did He do in his busiest times? He paused. He found a solitary place to pray. He withdrew. If Jesus thought that pausing was the answer, the preparation to facing busy- how can we think that it won’t work in our lives?
Remember the story of Martha and how she couldn’t stop and wanted Mary to be caught up in the busy as well? We get like that too. We think that busy should be the “norm” and anyone who takes a pause is not making the right or wise choice. Anyone who takes a pause is not using their time effectively. Jesus’ response in the story would suggest otherwise. “…only one thing is needed, Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42. I read this and my response is, “ouch!” This is a lesson I am constantly relearning. Getting busier will not help me. I don’t need to keep rushing to get things done. I need to hear Jesus tell me to hit the pause button.
Many things are always screaming for our attention. The important and the urgent are hard to separate it seems. Jesus is calling us to understand that what is needed in our lives is a pause that is focussed on listening to Him.
Just like there needs to be a stop in a sentence so that there is clarity- so that readers and listeners can process what is being said, this practice is necessary so that we can do the same in our relationship with Jesus. Just like there are stop signs and stop lights, that need to be obeyed for the sake of safety on the roads, taking time with Jesus is so that we have safety on our journey of life- spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally and physically. Inhaling and exhaling reminds us that life is a gift. It reminds us that we are not in charge. It reminds us to appreciate each moment. It reminds us that we are blessed. That is lifegiving. There is power in the pause!