A pretty piece of folded cloth lies before you, and you know there is something special folded inside that cloth. You have a choice. You might hurriedly tug, pull, and maybe rip the beautiful cloth (a treasure in its own right) to reveal the hidden treasure inside, or you might take your time, appreciating the feel of the cloth and the sheen of the fabric as you gently unfold it to find the treasure inside. The choice is yours. You can stress and hurry to get to the “goal” or you can enjoy the moments along the way.
That’s what I’m learning during this period in my life. I’ve been retired for more than a year now. The first year, I worked on a book with my son and a friend, published, it, and looked for ways to share the book. I went from being “busy” in my employer’s office to being “busy” in my home office. It was an amazing, joy-filled time.
Then…I waited, thinking the Lord would show me the next goal. I waited and waited. I talked with my Heavenly Father and waited some more.
I learned that sometimes it’s best to let the days gently unfold. Being ever mindful of God’s loving presence in the moments of a day reduces anxiety and stress. It’s like the difference between a raging river and a gently flowing stream.
I learned to relax, just a little, and not feel too guilty for not knowing the next step in this journey of my life. During prayer, the words, “Be still” were often ushered into my thoughts. (He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV)
I didn’t understand why it was so hard to wait on the Lord, to be still and trust in His plan. I thought maybe it was because I was not accustomed to quieter, calmer days and maybe I was missing the “busyness” of a routine day with a list of tasks to accomplish.
Talking this issue over with the Lord, I remembered some of the words and phrases my parents said to teach my brother and me how to be responsible adults. You might have heard some of these in your childhood, as well.
“Get up, Sleepyhead, we’re burning daylight!” Dad used this phrase when we were traveling to visit our-of-town relatives and he wanted to get an early start.
“Let’s get ‘er done!” These were Dad’s words when we had a task or project to complete. Getting it done was not something you put off for another time. No, you got busy and got done.
“You can’t sleep the day away.” Mom said this if we wanted to sleep later on the weekend than she thought we should.
“Get up and get around. We’ll have breakfast with Dad.” During the summertime, Mom expected us to help with household and yard chores. Everybody had to do their part; no lazybones allowed.
Perhaps even more than their words or phrases, though, my parents taught by example. They worked hard and taught my brother and me to do the same. They also taught us to make time to enjoy our family and friends. I’m not sure why the “working words” settled deeper into my brain than the “making time for family and friends” words. I do know, though, that “being still” and “waiting on the Lord” didn’t come easily to me.
I’m beginning to understand a bit better after the past few days of watching my days unfold instead of hurriedly running from one task to another, taking “control” of the minutes in the day. This is what I’ve noticed: When I awaken, thank the Lord for the day and ask Him to make me continuously aware of His presence, I get more done in less time. The day gently unfolds. I take care of the day’s tasks, or meet the day’s challenges, knowing I have God’s presence with me. I may sit still for a while, visit with my husband, pet the dogs, read a book, or watch the birds eating from the birdfeeder outside the kitchen window. There are many moments in a day and every single one is a gift from the Lord, whether we are praising Him as we work to accomplish a goal or just being still and gratefully enjoying our blessings.