As a father of three and a half year old twin daughters, I am frequently blessed by interruptions of sheer wonder coming from my children over things I have slowly taught myself to gloss over for the sake of busyness. Car rides for me are simply a means of getting from point A to point B, but that is not so for my kids. Car rides are an opportunity to sing their favorite songs with a captive audience, practice their ABCs, or see how many telephone poles they can count before losing track of where they were and starting over again. Car rides are an opportunity to stare out the window and soak up the world beyond our doorstep. Car rides are an opportunity to practice wonder.
Yesterday (on my day off) I found myself making not one, but 2 U-turns, not because I was lost, but because my wife Danae (also blessed with the gift of wonder) spotted, with some excitement, 3 daffodils whose buds had chosen to burst open over the weekend. Of course, her act of pointing out the window saying “Oh look, some daffodils just bloomed; I love daffodils!” never reaches the ears and brains of our children in time, so a panicked chorus of “I missed them, I missed them!” ensued. Not being in too big a hurry to get to point B on my day off I chose to oblige this moment of wonder: Commence first U-turn. Anja caught an eyeful of the beautiful waves of yellow ribbon pouring from the top of these 3 daffodil stems narrating her experience with a deep inhale of wonder followed by wide eyed pointing “they are beautiful, Mommy!” Success? Can we get back to getting to point B now? Nope, because not only were we now driving in the wrong direction, but this sent my other daughter, Junia, into tearful exasperation because of course she couldn’t see the daffodils from her side of the car: Commence second U-turn. “Oooh, pretty flowers. They’re yeyyow Daddy, they’re yeyyow!!!” Success!
I’m so glad it happened to be my day off yesterday because, had I been in my usual focus on getting to point B, I probably would have robbed them of that moment of wonder, and this moment has gotten me thinking. I spend far too much time trying to get to point B, only to arrive, and immediately start preparing for point C, and I know I’m far from alone in this. The thing is, rarely are we forced to live this way; we do it to ourselves. We over program, over schedule, and over pack our lives. We’re too busy for wonder because we live in a culture where busy is normal; busy is even lifted up as admirable. How’s life? Busy. Oh yeah? Good to hear, work must be going well then. Busy may be good for our work, but I’m not sure it’s good for our families and other relationships. I know it’s not good for our spirits.
Busy is a state of being spiritually distracted. We need that day off. We need that Sabbath from our busyness, our schedules, even ourselves, but in this culture of busyness in which we live, we are becoming more and more inept at taking the Sabbath that our spirits need to be healthy. Far too often I hear things like, “It’s hard to get to church on Sundays because it just feels like another item on the calendar, another commitment, another thing keeping me busy.” Somewhere along our journey from point A to point B, we have lost our way. We have forgotten that worship is not just another destination; it’s not just another item on the calendar. It’s the double U-turn.
Recently, my mother-in-law started telling me about her parents (who have both since passed away) and her story was a reminder that we’re not actually any busier now than folks used to be; we just have a less healthy relationship with our busyness. It was exactly the reminder I needed, and perhaps it will be the reminder you need as well. She said “My parents never missed a week of church, not because they felt obligated to be there, but because they looked forward to it. It was their break.” Her parents were hard workers; they owned a farm and both had jobs as well as raising children. They weren’t any less busy than we are. The only difference was that they didn’t see church as just another thing on their calendar. Church was a break from their busyness.
Today, I find myself learning something of great value from generations before and after me, something I haven’t learned from my own generation. Worship is that spiritual double U-turn, an opportunity to slow down and gaze upon the flowers blooming in our lives, to peer in awe and wonder and the fruit of God’s work in our hearts. Worship is an opportunity to practice wonder.
So I invite you, not to make sure you put the Sunday Service on your digital calendar and set reminders to go off so you don’t forget; no. I invite you to not schedule anything on Sunday mornings. I invite you not only to slow down, but to stop. Stop being busy for a moment, and just be. Be with your families/friends, be with the world, be with God. Don’t just slow down and drive by the wonders of God’s creation, pull right over, hop out of the car, and stop to smell the flowers of God’s love in your life. Stop at the Lord’s table to taste and see that God is indeed good. God needed to take a Sabbath day after creating the world and instructed the Israelite people to take a Sabbath day each week as well, not another calendar item, but a break, a break in their lives, in their work, in their striving. This isn’t about pleasing God; it’s not about fulfilling an obligation. It’s about living a healthy life spiritually, so allow yourselves the time to take a break, to take a double U-turn through the church parking lot next Sunday to smell the flowers, to take in the awe and beauty of God’s love in your lives.
Grace and peace to you in and through the busyness of life. May you allow yourself the time to slow down, even stop for a moment to dwell in God’s presence with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pastor Jason Lukis