Smelling the Roses with Mike

I have a friend named Mike. He has been a good pal to me over the last few years, and he has recently moved into town to work with my church. Mike is one of those "rare breed" guys, and if you meet him you will understand what I mean. There are really not too many people in the world like him. A Math/Business Major gone rogue Worship Leader, Mike is as unique as they come--and that is a good thing. Everybody likes Mike.

But one by product of Mike being a rare breed is that he takes his precious time--with pretty much everything. He takes his time putting his shoes on, he takes his time parking his car, he takes his time getting ready in the morning (his former roommates will affirm that). If his house was burning down I am convinced Mike would not pick up the pace to his morning routine; the guy just never is in a hurry. It is how Mike roles.

Compare that with me. My disposition is a little more relaxed than most, but when you have stuff to do--you got to do it. Let's go. Fast. Now. My record time from alarm clock to car seat is about 9 minutes (and I do that more frequently than I would like). It is not that I like to hurry, but I definitely prefer hurrying to being late. There are things to do, places to see, and only 24 hours in the day. More often than not I find myself rushing, hurrying frantically about trying to meet different tasks and get to places on time. And the sad part is my life is not "that busy." I mean, I am busy, but part of my rush tendency may be due more to my habits of procrastination than I would like to admit.

Mike and I were having a conversation about this as I was waiting for him to get ready for whatever we were doing one day. "Why are you so slow, Mike?" I demanded to know (This was not the first conversation we have had about this). He looked up slowly and while methodically tying his left shoelace: "I guess, I am a smell the roses kind of guy." In frustration I responded, "If you don't stop smelling those roses, you will die before you ever do anything!" A little dramatic I concede, but there is nothing like some hyperbole to exaggerate a situation and maybe make someone feel bad.

We eventually got to wherever we were going; but Mike's reference about smelling the roses stuck with me. Yeah, you might die "missing life" if you spend every day of your life sniffing every flower in your neighbor's front lawn; but can you miss life in doing too much? Can you be too ambitious on getting things done or too focused on the next task--only to realize one day that life has passed you by? I think so; and I think this happens more than we would like to admit in our hurried, time constrained culture.

Don't get me wrong, I think being timely and prompt are good things. As Christians, Christ calls us to be good stewards of the time, resources, and gifts that we have been entrusted with. I take that call very seriously; but Jesus does not just call us to work, He calls us to Himself. The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 really illustrates this, and it hits us task oriented work-aholics hard. There Mary was wasting her time, loitering at Jesus' feet while Martha had all of this work to do. Jesus the Son of God was after all in her home, she had better make it accommodating! If there ever was a was a time to hurry and to work it was then. But Jesus chastises her for her busy-ness: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." There are times when the work needs to stop.

Now Mary was not just "smelling the roses," she was at Christ's feet, soaking in His words like a sponge. But how can we follow in her example if we never take time to breath? How can we let his words touch our lives if we do not stop to listen and meditate on them?

One of my Resident Director's from Grace College once advised me to practice the discipline of Sabbath. To "practice rest." That might seem like a contradiction, but it is not. Rest is not the absence of doing, it is rather the habit of "recharging" and ultimately reflecting on the glory of Christ. Different people can practice rest in different ways; for some it might look like going on a solitary walk every other day. For others it might be spending time with the family on weekends that could be used for work projects. It might look like turning the speed from 80 miles an hour to 40. Whatever it looks like, rest is a discipline that could not be more necessary in our time-frantic age.

We can all learn from my friend Mike to slow down. Let's make time to breathe. To smell a rose or two. Set a side time to "rest," and make time to listen to our Savior's words and turn them over and over again in our minds. Maybe this will require cutting out some periphery projects or ministries in our life. It should not matter. 

We might find in the process that a slower pace is rewarding; It may even make the work we do focus on more beneficial. Time will tell. Only let us not allow life or (worse) our Savior to pass us by.

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." --Matthew 11:28-30


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