Life is full of hustle. Just think about it. We have goals, ambitions and milestones. In working life, you move career opportunity to career opportunity, and promotion to promotion. Achievement is what really matters, not the months and years it took to get there. These are just steps on the road, it means little more.
Or think about holidays. A visit to the travel agent reminds us that the next holiday must be better than the last. More exciting. More memorable. Each one a little grander and bigger than the last. It’s not just holidays, consider phones. We update our phone as soon as the next model comes out regardless of whether we need to or not.
One of the principles our society operates on is bigger is always better. Settling for something is wrong and so we move from one experience of a lifetime to the next. While there is nothing wrong with ambitions, holidays or great experiences, but it is dangerous to make it our focus. You see, if we rush to experiences of a lifetime, then we fail to experience life. Could it not be that the moments between the big things is what shapes us and makes us the people we are? What would it look like if we slowed down and embraced the time between experiences? Who would we become if the things that shaped us were from the ordinary, everyday stuff of life?
The Christian culture isn’t so different. There is an abundance of conferences and it is tempting to rely on these for spiritual sustenance. On a smaller scale, some may go week to week only cultivating their life with God every Sunday. Yes, even when following Jesus, we can hustle from event to event and miss the in-between time. It’s tragic because in doing so we miss God’s call to follow Jesus in the everyday things of life and allow him to cast us in Jesus’ mould.
The Trip of a Lifetime
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to go a tour of Jordan and Israel for the final subject of my college degree. It was the first time my college offered anything like this and so I applied even though it delayed my graduating. Financially I couldn’t afford to go but, since I was a studying, I could put on my student debt. Here the opportunity of a lifetime opened before me. And so, I took it.
The trip was amazing. It brought the Bible to life. Sure, time had changed things but now I understood the environment of the Bible. I had a picture of the wilderness Jesus fasted in. I could imagine shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem. The Bible was no longer just divinely inspired words on a page but became rooted in a time and place.
But for all the positives, it was still a tour. And I did the tourist thing – at least initially. Like all tourists, I rushed from place to place, highlight to highlight taking photos. I wasn’t going to miss a thing. The problem was that I did miss something. My preoccupation with capture and do everything meant I missed the opportunity to be present in the moment. About halfway through the trip I realised that here I was, in places that constantly told the story of God, and I was too busy to stop and be with him. I made a commitment. From that point wherever we went on the trip, I would first ask God what he would say to me. Sure, I still took my fair share of photos, but I was present with God.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with conferences or life’s highlights. We need them because they help keep us going. But I don’t want to miss what God is doing during the ordinary, everyday parts of life. I want to cultivate a daily life with Jesus – one in which I take time to notice him. In short, I no longer want to spend my time rushing from experience to experience. Instead, I want to slow down and experience the one who holds all moments together, the big moments and the times in between, and hear what he has to say. I’m trading in the bigger is always better life for one of intimacy with Jesus. Will you join me?