My husband Charles and I took a much needed late summer vacation this past week to Orange Beach.
We spent seven blissful days sitting beneath a big umbrella, enjoying a pleasant breeze, listening to that familiar soothing rhythm of the waves, and reading for hours and hours every day.
We ate fresh seafood every night and enjoyed strong coffee on our balcony every morning. Sunrises and sunsets were picture perfect, and we drank in every second with a keen appreciation for the gift of leisure and the beauty of God’s creation. It was not our norm to be so free.
I have this theory, however, and I think it is worthy of one of those “shoebox” greeting cards with Maxine’s picture on the front.
You know her.
She is the crabby old woman whose sarcasm is hilarious only because there is a definite ring of truth there somewhere.
Well, my theory is this. Vacations only help your stress while you are THERE! As soon as you return, every single thing you left behind is waiting for you — along with several huge suitcases full of dirty clothes.
The depressing sight of the mountain of laundry Saturday morning was eclipsed only by the sight of our menagerie of potted geraniums, impatiens, and various other parched plants that were quite neglected in our absence. I have been trying to resuscitate them for three days now. Some are responding, but some are clearly gone.
I think I have just had a major “object lesson.” You may or may not have been part of a church congregation that has a “children’s sermon” each week. All the little people come down to the front, sit on the floor around the altar, and some wise, kind children’s minister gives a short presentation with a profound meaning all geared to the age, understanding, and attention span of the children. Can I just say that there have been many times when the deep lesson attached itself to my heart in unforgettable terms? I think it may be a good thing that my child’s heart has never grown up.
I had that same sense of epiphany the past few days as I have been playing ‘catch up” with everything from laundry to plants to grocery shopping and bill paying.
My plants greatly suffered from the sweltering sun and the absence of any nurture whatsoever. Ouch. My negligence had a very visible and possibly terminal effect on a few of my geraniums, ferns, and impatiens.
When God entrusts others to your care, whether they be your children, your students, your pets, your Sunday school class, or your co-workers, don’t check out and take a temporary total leave of absence. There is a certain burden to being “in charge” of the welfare and nurture of others. There is also a huge, though sometimes delayed, reward and blessing of tending day in and day out. Faithfulness in small things is so often not small at all.
You know, I have some terrific neighbors, and I could have recruited one or two to water the plants while I was gone. I just got in a hurry and let it go. And so, why am I surprised at the brown shriveled sight that is the result of my failure?
As I have gotten older…and older, I have come to respect two words more than ever. Consistency and intentionality have become so important to me. I have lived long enough to recognize that we live in a world that, for the most part, lacks a real appreciation of either one.
Consistency implies that which is always the same — again and again and again. You can depend on it. I like that, and if truth be told, I think consistency can be quite healthy. God’s truth is consistent. The world may change, but God does not. To consider whatever issue the world throws at you from the standpoint of God’s eternal word eliminates a lot of stress and indecision. Does that make you feel secure?
Intentionality produces much the same feeling. Being deliberate in our choices, deliberate because we have a goal in mind and a means to that end, eliminates a great deal of anxiety. If God’s truth IS true, then being intentional about honoring it is always a win.
Reflect for a few minutes on both those words. That should help you let go of all the “3 Steps to Peace” articles populating the grocery store checkout lanes! Hollywood’s track record on wisdom is pretty dismal.
You might want to stick with God’s. After all, it has been around a couple of thousand years.