Monday, January 31, 2011
life is not an emergency
The cardboard brown Amazon box finally arrives. The book I have long anticipated. I began following Ann Voskamp's blog over a year ago. I daily find myself drawn to her words and her photos and her life and her wisdom. Wisdom and words that are no doubt God's gift through her. One Thousand Gifts is the name of her newly released book. On the cover are these words - A DARE TO LIVE FULLY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. And maybe that's why I am drawn to her words and her wisdom. Because I sense this full living in her and it feels so far out of reach for me.
Ann's book is largely about gratitude. In the small things. In the hard things. In EVERYTHING. A life lived in thankfulness, counting God's every blessing, even when they feel "like gravel in the mouth". A thankful life is the grand idea of the book. But tucked away in it's pages is a lesser theme, and it is the one that strikes hard today. It's an idea that I know I must grab hold of if I hope to ever fully live. I must grab hold of this if I should live a life of gratitude. It is the rarely grasped by Americans truth that "life is not an emergency." But oh how I live as if it is. Hurry up and finish breakfast so we can start on school. Hurry up and finish school so we can feel as if we've accomplished our task. Hurry up with dinner so we can clean up and have the mess behind us. Hurry up and brush your teeth so you can get in bed. Hurry to church. Hurry to ball practice. Hurry from here to there and get it all done so I don't disappoint anyone. So I can feel a sense of accomplishment and worth. As if life is an emergency.
Evelyn Underhill said, "On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur."
Yep, that's me. A sure amateur.
So this is today's fervent prayer:
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered - how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Rescue me from my rebellion." Psalm 39
Because isn't that what all of this rushing about amounts to? Rebellion? When I'm rushing about to accomplish much and appear worthy, is my only hope truly in HIM? And how disheartening to think that all my busy rushing might end in nothing as the psalmist says! But isn't it possible? Couldn't it end in nothing? Because the only thing that is anything is God's glory. And how often is He glorified in my rush and hurry? My kids could testify that it's not often.
Life is not an emergency. But what does this newly discovered truth change? Because there are still dishes to be done and food to be bought and meals to be prepared and laundry to be washed and lessons to be taught. There are places to be and friends to help and appointments to keep and houses to build and books to read. There are bills to pay and pictures to take and babies in Africa that need mommies and fatherless children all around me. This is reality. And many of these things are truly urgent. Sure the dishes can wait. But not those babies in Africa and these fatherless children in my backyard. And I want to be sure that in my prayerful attempt to not treat life as an emergency I do not lose my sense of urgency for the things that are the heart of God. But surely this truth, this desire to be rescued from my rebellion and put my hope in the Lord, surely it changes something. I can only hope it changes my thoughts, my facial expressions, my words, and my voice. If life is not an emergency, I want to stop communicating to the world that it is with my life. I want to slow down and have a long conversation with a friend. I want to slow down and hold my babies before they aren't babies anymore. I want to slow down and listen to my oldest before he just chooses to stop talking. I want to slow down and hug my husband rather than passing him in the hall on my way to the next task. I want to slow down and see the things that God has given me eyes to see, but I've been in too big of a hurry to look at. That's all. I just want to slow down and live.
There are situations all over the world that are rightfully declared emergencies. I pray for God to "break my heart for what breaks His." But this life He's given me, this day he's given me....it's not an emergency. Today is not an emergency. And I don't want to do life like an amateur for one more day.