Summary: Slowing the pace of Life
Not So Fast!!
Here it is, the year 2015. Do you wonder where 2014 went so fast? Do you sometimes stop and ask where the last five years have gone…or 25 years? And do you ever get the feeling the world is moving faster than you are? Somewhere in our youth, we learn one of the mantras of modernity, and that is; “Time stands still for no man.” Somehow, I feel like I’m always behind and forever trying to catch up. I’m not sure with what or who, but do you ever feel that way? Perhaps we human beings forget an important theological truth, and that is that we are creatures of eternity. In fact, while the while the world is screaming at us to hurry up, the Bible is telling us that we can and should slow down, stop, and stay still every so often. Perhaps that’s why God wrote the Sabbath into the founding principles of humanity.
Driving across 64 between Franklin and Hayesville recently, we came across a sad, but familiar sight. There along the shores of Lake Chatuge, piled high on one another like the rusting carcasses in an automotive junk yard, were the skeletons of newly used Christmas trees. As I drove by, it seemed a rather sad end to such a brilliant symbol. I also noticed that many of the holiday decorations were already down, and several of the Nativity sets that had just a week earlier heralded the birth of Jesus, were already safely packed away—forgotten until next November.
We Americans are in such a hurry to get there—you know, to Christmas, and in such a hurry to move on. Stores begin playing Christmas music in late October, the day after Halloween, and play it until December 25th. Then, after Christmas day, Valentines stuff magically begins to pop up on the store shelves and you don’t hear another note of Christmas music until the next Halloween. Even Christians seem to be in a hurry to get to the manger…but we don’t stay very long. By New Years, our minds and our hearts have already raced on to something else.
I have a grandson who has Attention Deficit Disorder and it tires me out just watching him. He moves from one thing to the next, never staying with anything very long, like a hummingbird endlessly moving from flower to flower….and I wonder if he ever fully experiences things or people. I’ve noticed it makes learning difficult. It makes relationships difficult too. Maybe in some ways, since the Fall that is, the entire human race has A.D.D. We do seem to have difficulty staying focused on important things…like mangers and Christmas---which is weird. If a person has a son or a daughter, or grandchild or niece or nephew born in the hospital, they can’t stay away from the place! They want to hang out there and see the baby, and hear the baby—want to hold him and cuddle her and feel the soft skin and smell that new baby smell. Usually, the nurse has to come in and tell everyone it’s time to leave because everyone wants to hang out with the baby. But if you want to get to know the baby, and a chance to fall in love with the baby, you’ve got to spend time with the baby.
Lots of folks go to church, sit in a pew, kneel at the altar and have even visited the manger….but never took time to get to know the baby. It takes time to know a baby. It takes time to get to know Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will bear fruit.” You can’t be fruitful in your life unless you REMAIN in me, He said. He seems to place a lot of emphasis on that word REMAIN because He uses it 8 times in 8 verses. Maybe He knows something of our A.D.D. nature. If asked to describe their lives, there are a lot of Christians who would never use words like, “Fruitful”, “Rich”, “Full”, “Meaningful”, or, the word Jesus uses is, “Abundant”. Would you describe your life using these words? Would you describe your Spiritual Life this way?....Because, if our spiritual life is not full, or meaningful, or rich, or fruitful, the rest of our lives will feel barren and empty and meaningless too. Jesus said, “You won’t flourish---won’t have much of a harvest in life unless you REMAIN in Him. REMAIN means stay---spend time---hang out, have a relationship with-- and if we don’t do that with Jesus, then our spiritual lives become like dead and dying branches. They may be present, but there is no life in them.
Of course, this isn’t anything new. The people in the Old Testament sometimes made the same mistake. The religious people we read about in Isaiah 30 wanted to be religious---wanted to be God’s special people—His family, but they never spent time with Him. They wouldn’t REMAIN in Him. They would visit once a week or so on the Sabbath, make an occasional offering, but never stopped long enough to get to know the One who loved them and protected them and provided for them. God told them in Isaiah 30, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…but you would have none of it!” Isn’t that sad? I wonder if God sometimes says that about me? Or you? Everything the Hebrew people needed and that their hearts longed for escaped them because they were in too much of a hurry. They didn’t stop. They wouldn’t stay. They refused to remain and they couldn’t rest long enough to receive all that God wanted to give them. God loved them, but they never slowed down long enough to love God back.