Slow Down – Refreshment Ahead

When we were invited to return to southern California from France 12 years ago, we dreaded the idea of stepping back into the rushed lifestyle of the Los Angeles area.  We knew it well, having met and married north of LA before spending 15 years overseas – where we learned that other parts of the world went through life at a much slower pace. We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t get caught up in the race…and we failed.  Our lives these last few years have been as busy as those of our neighbors.

We learned the hard way that if we go with the flow, the flow will control our lives.  The solution is to refuse to float along with the current, and in fact to decide when to stand against it.  An experience on a recent hike drove home the power of intentionality when it comes to the pace of our lives.

I was on a trail that followed the curves of a hillside, and noticed that the left turns, in this case the canyon turns, tended to be tree-covered and cool and green (the picture is from that hike).  It was a warm day, and I began to look forward to the left turns.  In fact, I subconsciously slowed my pace as I went through them, giving me time to enjoy the cool shade and the refreshment that it provided.  After a while, the slowing was no longer subconscious – I intentionally took my time in these parts of the trail.

It made me think about how I treat the other sources of refreshment in my life.  Do I slow down to enjoy them, or do I push through at full speed?

Scripture reading ought to be a shady corner of my life, where I meet with God and sit contentedly at His feet.  I too often rush through a couple of chapters and check off the box, jumping through the hoop in order to be “spiritual.”  God’s word is a place of refreshment, and I need to slow down and enjoy it.

Time with family and friends is meant to be a cool breeze on a hot day.  Laughter and love put a spring in my step and wind in my sails – benefits that I miss when I rush through these moments.  They are sources of refreshment, and I need to slow down and enjoy them.

Public worship has the power to reinvigorate my soul.  It’s a unique and too-rare opportunity to add my voice to that of others around me as we give God the praise He deserves, and receive from Him that which we need.  Too often, I run through worship at full speed, looking at my watch and making plans for lunch.  Worship is a place of refreshment, and I need to slow down and enjoy it.

Sabbath is teaching me to slow down in the refreshment zones, to take a little longer to get through them than I have in the past.  Does this resonate with you?  If so, join me in the slow lane.  Identify the “left turns” in your life, the places and people that you find refreshing, and make an intentional decision to slow down when you get to them.

It won’t come naturally, but it will be worth it.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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2 Responses to Slow Down – Refreshment Ahead

  1. Lindakilker@aol.com says:

    Wonderful insights, Mike. For me slowing down has two different dimensions. The first is controlling the pace of activities often requiring to simply commit to fewer things, people or events. The second is developing the skill to stay in the moment. All too often I too am looking at the clock mentally preparing for the next item on my schedule causing me to miss what God might have had in store for me (or others) if I was fully present. Thanks Mike for your commitment to the ways of the Sabbath. Grace to you always, Steve

  2. Love the specifics, Steve! And your insight of the two dimensions is spot on – there is an external and an internal side to that struggle, and you highlighted each of them. Thanks for chiming in – I appreciate you, brother!

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