Take a moment during your busy life to find some peace

Published 10:14 am Friday, February 7, 2014

Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. Tom Biatek, United Methodist Church

When I hop in the car and drive around town, I see the world a certain way. I look out for other cars, kids on bikes, stop signs and traffic signals. I am aware of the speed of the car, the road conditions and all of those important things one considers when driving a car. The world is reduced to those small and large things that might be a danger or an obstacle to the operation of a motor vehicle. I am in my car quite a bit for work so this is a normal state of affairs for me.

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On the other hand, when I strap on my snowshoes, the world appears in a very different light. As I head off into the woods and hike about in the snow, life takes on a different hue all together. I hear the crunch of snow under my snowshoes. Crows caw at me. Deer jump out of the brush and run away. Squirrels jump and play in the snow. The wind makes the trees creak and sway. The world gets very small and intimate. I move at a slower pace. I notice more in the world. It feels more free.

It is important for us to take a break from what is often called normal. We can adapt and grow comfortable in some pretty challenging and sometimes unhealthy circumstances. A person who lives with a chronic health condition must make major changes in lifestyle. A family with a tight budget makes the necessary but often painful sacrifices to survive. People caught in addictions come to believe that their state of abuse is how the world will always be. Those who chase after success and money soon become enslaved by the treadmill of trying to get ahead. As time goes on, we grow to think that all of this is “normal.”

There is a story in the Bible of Jesus being pressed upon by great crowds. As word of his reputation spread, he found himself in great demand to speak, heal, visit and be seen by many people. In the midst of the growing demands, Jesus takes his disciples away to find some peace. I like the fact that Jesus could recognize that there are times in our life when the world presses in with demand when we have to get away from the crowd, step off the treadmill, find some solitude and simply be. It isn’t that Jesus needed to run away from his problems or he was hiding from his troubles, but more that he recognized that everyone needs a moment to catch their breath and slow down, even if it is just a moment. The Methodist Bishop Reuben Job, advises that people need to take one hour out of every day to be at peace and in prayer. He also suggest that, at least once a week, we need a day for ourselves and to commune with God. Once every month, Bishop Job advises that we take an overnight trip alone for renewal and once a quarter, we find a week to reconnect with ourselves and God. I believe the bishop’s plan is healthy and wise.

It isn’t always easy in our busy and demanding lives to find time for peace and quiet, but I think that it is vital to do so. We all need a break in our day, some time away, a stretch where we can take care of ourselves and be free of the anxieties of life. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Philippians 4:6 to 7 says it well too, “Do not be anxious about anything, but do everything by prayer and supplication. With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Simon and Garfunkel knew it as well when they sang, “Slow down, you move too fast. Got to make the morning last. Kicking down the cobble stones, looking for fun and feeling groovy.”

Find some peace today!