On a crisp Sunday afternoon during our first fall season in Bakerville, Hal called to tell us he was on his way over to take us to see the beautiful colors in the area. Hal was an older man, a dairy farmer with a rather large operation. Soon he arrived and we were on a leisurely drive, escorted by a person who knew and loved this corner of Connecticut.
Hal told us that he knew we were pushing hard to get the parsonage comfortable, to get to know the church members, to develop a basic church program – while I was in graduate school. Hal went on to remind us that there would always be work to do and if we did not stop to enjoy the fall colors, the opportunity would soon be past. Each fall he came by at least once to take us to see the scenery he enjoyed. Hal helped us learn to stop and smell the roses – to enjoy the beauty and wonder of each place we lived.
Sally Jo and I do not stop often enough to take the time to enjoy our environment. But wherever we have gone we have taken Hal’s lesson with us. For years we took a walk together every day – not much of a choice as we had a dog. This block of time together enabled us to get needed exercise, let us enjoy the world around us, and gave us the opportunity to catch each other up on the activities of the day. We no longer have a dog and some times discipline is required to go for our daily walk. We work at taking time to sit on the back porch to enjoy our view of the Catskill Mountains, to take a canoe ride when at Whitaker Lake, to take a back road rather than a thru-way, to check out a small park or an out of the way historic site. Sally Jo and I often blur the line of work-leisure as we work together here on the vegetable garden or flower beds. There are lots of pieces to keeping a marriage strong for 46 years.
Our lives get complicated when we realize that we are too busy, particularly when what we are busy with is what we really would like to be doing. Perhaps the harder it is to stop being so busy, the more important it is that we do so.
I see no evidence in the Bible that Jesus was ever in a hurry. Jesus demonstrated a good work ethic, but He did not take advantage of every life-changing work opportunity. Many passages speak to the value of work, but there are also passages that tell us not to work all of the time! The 4th of the Ten Commandments speaks to the value of work and to the value of rest – which is put in the context of holiness. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” — Exodus 20:1-17
I know this is the most difficult commandment for me to keep, but this does not invalidate its truth. Also, Sabbath observance does not preclude stopping and smelling the roses on other days. At Deerfoot we sang, “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” — Psalms 118:24
Let us rejoice in each day we have:
- To enjoy the wonder of God’s creation and to worship our Creator.
- To enjoy our spouses, children, friends, and the new people that come into our lives.
This season of the year, this season of life, will soon be past. The work will still be there!
- Lord, what am I doing that pleases you?
- Lord, what am I doing that is not pleasing you –
as is evidenced by the fact that I feel the need to work 24/7?