Summary: Sometimes we forget what life is all about until we...SLOW DOWN.
July 14 & 15, 2001
I Remembered It in Michigan
Vacations are sometimes wonderful and sometimes disasters. I once listened for nearly two hours while driving to a call in talk show that had caller after caller telling vacation horror stories. I heard about people stranded over seas, people stranded in airports. There were stories of horrible rooms, thefts from rooms, hidden cameras and food poisoning in favorite vacation destinations. I have my own vacation horror stories, the night we were held over in Honolulu and our luggage was in Maui. We had not bathed, brushed our teeth etc. in nearly two days. We learned to pack a change of clothes and toiletries in carry on baggage. Or the return from our one cruise, there were bags left on the curb at the wrong airline terminal, near crash landing in Dayton and 1/2 inch of ice on our car, light jacket and pneumonia 3 days later.
I thought that last weeks vacation was the beginning of another horror story. I was in a bicycle wreck on the second morning. I got my first skinned knee in about 30 years. My knee swelled like a cantaloupe, it hurt real bad, the best I felt was when I would lay on the couch or in bed. It hurt to walk, sleep, shower, sit or roll over. My week of vacation had just taken an off ramp at 70 mph from the interstate of vacation activity to the back roads Amish buggy at clip-clop speed.
While I initially thought that I had arrived in Vacation Hades what I soon found out was that I had stumbled on, or rather I had tumbled into peace from the whirlwind. I believe that what I had expected for my week was a pretty common experience. How many of us have not heard the expression, “I gotta go back to work so I can get some rest”? We live what we think are lives of importance. Our day planners and palm pilots so jam packed. We have difficulty lifting our lives from the planner. We are constantly circling in a palm pilot holding pattern and we can’t even find peace or rest, even when we search for it. We become so at home in a whirlwind of activity that we plan and pilot our way even on vacation or days off into a busyness that chokes the understanding from a peace that passes all understanding that God wants to give and for which we so desperately yearn.
But, I remembered something in Michigan. I remembered it laying alone on a couch with my knee in the air and my plans in the dumps. The world thinks it knows how to find peace in the whirlwind. Yoga instructors insist the answer is meditation and “out of body” experiences. Magazines offer “Ten Ways to Beat Busyness.” Corporate trainers promote “proven techniques for stress free living.” Travel agents claim peace is available in Hawaii or a dozen other tropical destinations… for only $3,000!
But God says that peace is not found in a program or a place but in a Person, Jesus. Jesus said, “My peace I give you, I do not give you as the world gives.” (John 14:27) The peace that the world offers is short lived and shallow. It always has a price that is expensive and comes due even before the VISA or MasterCard bill does. The peace of Christ is immeasurable and eternal. It is free and the bill arrives with a credit, paid by The Master. We are told in Philippians 4: 7 that his peace “transcends human understanding and earthly circumstance. In Christ you can be at peace when you have five major projects due at the same time. You can experience serenity in the middle of a room full of screaming children or in the middle of an interesting council meeting. What I remembered in Michigan is that I must remain glued to Jesus. Our scripture passage today, Isaiah 26:3 tells us “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” We also see that John 15:4 says, Remain in me and I will remain in you.” Simple, stay glued to Jesus and I have peace. But, in the stresses of everyday life work or play, home or vacation we often come unglued.
Several years ago when I was the pastor of Vincennes First Baptist Church a young man in the congregation would come forward nearly every Sunday and quite often would ask me to pray that Jesus would come into his heart. After several weeks of this I asked him why he felt he had to ask Jesus into his heart over and over again. His reply? Now I might need to add that this young man had a low IQ and resided in a group home near the church and high falootin theological stuff didn’t sink in very well. He Said, “Pastor Jeff the problem with me and most stuff is that things don’t stay in me very long, I guess I just leak. Like my friend Kenny Fuller, who has since gone home to be with the Lord, I sometimes leak. Sometimes in my busyness, I leak way too much and sometimes just like my car, if it leaks all the oil out the engine over heats and locks up, that sometimes happens to me too. I am sure it happens to you too.