I’m writing this on my yellow pad in my friend’s house near the top of a huge rocky hill near Canyon Lake, Texas. Uni and I are here for two Sundays and the week in between. I’m preaching in a church pastored by this friend while he and his bride of a little over a year go on a much needed cruise. We had lived in the Texas hill country for a number of years before moving to Oklahoma, and I miss it.
Autumn here is beautiful even though there are no reds and browns and yellows like there are up north. Just green – the live oaks and the cedars. It’s quiet up here. We can walk or drive around and enjoy some of the beauty of Texas. Each morning we drive a few miles to Canyon Dam and walk across it. The breeze blows gently off the lake and cools us from the warmth of the Texas sun.
When we moved in last Saturday, we were shocked by the stillness. There are neighbors but not close; I haven’t seen any yet. There’s a dog somewhere that barks a greeting when we come or go. Otherwise, it’s quiet.
Then we found out there’s no TV, internet or land line here. Our cell phones barely show antenna. That caused us a bit of panic. What’ll we do? We can’t find out what’s going on in the world. We’re used to watching the TV news and to keeping posted on the internet. We’re used to communicating with everyone via e-mail. We’re used to being entertained by our TV in the evening.
Well, we did make a few adjustments. We found a Scrabble game. We read. Uni crochets. We play solitaire. We picked up some cheap movie DVDs to watch on our laptop (what else can you do with it?). We go to town every other day to check our e-mail on McDonald’s Wi-Fi.
But the real adjustment is that we are learning to enjoy the peace and aloneness and the time that we can’t fill up. We’d already started on this path when we retired, except that we had neighbors and family around and a yard to maintain – and puttering. This week is accelerating the slow down process. (Is that an oxymoron?)
We’re learning to not be busy and it is refreshing!
Busyness seems to be considered one of the greatest of virtues among Christians and non-Christians alike. We feel we have to be doing something in order to have worth. We seem to gage a fellow-Christian’s spiritual condition by how busy he or she is. We don’t like to brag on ourselves, but we do like to let others know how much we’re doing.
And yet I don’t find busyness listed among “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22, 23. I do, however, find “peace, patience … self-control.”
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not commending laziness. There’s always plenty of work that needs to be done. But I’ve found that I need to examine what things are essential as well as what jobs someone else can do better. I don’t think that the opposite of busyness is laziness; it’s peace!
We need quiet time. I’m not speaking of a structured “quiet time,” although that is important: we do need structured time for reading and prayer.
But we need free time to just let our minds wander, to meditate, to converse with each other and with our Father as we would someone sitting across the room, to listen to the Spirit, to just “have a little talk with Jesus.”
We need to be a little less like Martha who was “worried and troubled about many things,” and a little more like her sister Mary, who “chose the good part that won’t be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41, 42).
I think Uni and I are learning a little more this week about making Mary’s choice.
P.S. This wasn’t published till we got home!