Summer time is a special time in our home, and by “special” one might say stressful. There is confusion somewhere in between the desire for me to be at home with my precious children which I balance with my work life (which I also love). I devote the majority of my time to my children, which essentially means that… I devote the majority of my time to my children!
With little time to myself in the summer, I have struggled with feeling overwhelmed. I found myself giving myself a pep talk that sounds like this, “You’ve got this! Run your race well.”
After a few minutes, I was stopped by this thought because the idea of running a race sounds exhausting, and I am actively trying to avoid exhaustion. As it turns out, there are many places at the moment that are consumed by similar thoughts.
I didn’t just imagine this concept of running my life like a race to a finish line. Paul’s words inspired my mantra.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (1 Timothy 4:7).”
I latched on to just enough of Paul’s teaching to create an anxiety in me that needs to work hard, fight hard, cling to my faith, and in my case pursue life like a focused marathon runner. Again, an image that I was using to fuel not flames, but fumes.
I find that Jesus models something different in his life of ministry.
Jesus often stops to pray in the midst of his busyness. After a full day of ministry, compounded by the loss of John the Baptist, where does he go but to pray (Mark 6:46)?
Jesus teaches us to pause numerous times and seek the Father- as he faces his own death (Matt. 26:36-45), before he makes major decisions (Luke 6:12), and so on. Consistently, Jesus models a life of quiet focused prayer as a solution to life’s chaos- not go faster and harder.
Not only that, but Jesus and his disciples lived their ministry in the moment. Their days consisted of moving from one opportunity to the next.
When you read the accounts of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels and you’re like me you may begin to feel anxious just listening to the chaos that surrounds Jesus. As he moves from one pressing crowd to the next, he receives each request in the moment.
In Luke chapter 8, Jesus releases a man from demons, sails to shore and is met with a crowd along with Jairus, who is desperate for Jesus to save his dying daughter. As he is moving in the direction of Jairus’ house to perform his life saving miracle for the girl, the hem of is garment is touched by yet another desperate woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. She is instantly healed, but rather than running away on his race to save the dying child, Jesus stops. He didn’t need to stop, the miracle had already been performed, the woman was completely healed, instantly. And yet, Jesus stops and sweetly offers these famous words, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace (Luke 8:48).”
Jesus didn’t move along in a hurry, mumbling about some great task that was ahead of him, and how he needs to hasten with tenacity and purpose. Again, his life is the mission. Each meeting is not an interruption but an opportunity to serve and attend to the people around him.
So, while there are many helpful aspects of imagining my life as some grand, worthy, fast paced race, at the moment I need rest. Paul isn’t actually asking me to lose sight of the present because my eyes are fixed on the finish line. Instead, I find that Jesus’ example helps me set a pace that feels more like a stroll in the park. Not any less purposeful, just less anxious and hurried, and more available to people, like my children. I am invited to stop and be refreshed through prayer when I am overwhelmed. I am reminded to live every moment intentionally, because each moment is really opportunity and every opportunity is simply a sacred part of the journey.