Sometimes we need to stop, look, and listen. This isn't a directive only for training up our children before crossing the street. Sometimes it is a directive we should take into account ourselves. I am convinced that the best things in life take time. I am convinced that the most rich and rewarding things I will every have or achieve come in the form of a slow painful burn in the waiting room. Our impatience tells us that we need it now. It tells us that we do not have it within ourselves to wait another minute. We live in a culture that tells us that faster is better. We live in a culture that bows to youth and scoffs at life after a certain age. If you have not experienced adulthood by fifteen your a year too late and by thirty if you have not established yourself you are an outlier. We approach the deadlines of life with rigidity, yet we approach our health internally and externally with a passivity that yields small return. We are told to curate a five and ten year plan, but do not write down the unexpected illnesses, the family division that pushes people a part, the unfaithful spouse, the job loss, the car accident, or the birth of a child you did not plan. We do not write down the man or woman who changes the course of our lives, we do not write down the near death experience, the move across the country, the political division that polarizes a nation, or the pandemic that shuts the entire world down. We do not write into the five and ten year plan the weeks that we are choosing to rest, the times we are going to walk in nature, or the days we are going to defrost the numbness we feel inside towards the pain and suffering we have faced in our hearts. We do not write down on the five or ten year plan the days we are going to choose kindness and compassion over jealousy and hatred. We do not write down when we will choose to slow our life down instead of speed it up.
To be frank, it has felt like most of my life I watch people race past me to the next phase of the “plan”. I remain kind of stuck in this waiting room, where Christ is after every room of my heart. While some go through a minor crushing here or there, it feels like I sit in the waiting room and get crushed over and over and over with little relief. When I thought it couldn’t feel any harder the crushing only intensified. When I thought that the worst of the crushing was over another death, trauma, illness diagnosis, family rift, friend loss, or financial blow smacked me across the face. Finally, I have come to realize that there is no destination on this side of heaven, but an intense training to learn how to focus on the face of Christ. The unexpected traumas, financial strains, illnesses, and relationship struggles will always pop into life to say hello. Yet, it is your mental, spiritual, and physical fortitude that will create the miracles we all yearn to see in our lives. It was when I learned to praise God in the midst of verbal abuse, it was when I learned to praise God in the midst of unfavorable diagnosis after unfavorable diagnosis, it was when I learned to praise God in the midst of financial suffering, it was when I learned to praise God in the midst of a stark and lonely path with no friendships in sight that I learned to turn my eyes to Jesus. The true freedom in my life began to unveil itself upon the recognition that without Christ I would not be living here today to share this with others. In John 14:27 Christ said, the peace I leave you is the peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.
It no longer seems like a nice little bible verse, as His peace and joy manifests in my life supernaturally. I know that miraculous change happened when hard things happen to this day and I found myself in a place of praise even when it hurts. The peace I carry is not my own, but it was in the consumption of the words of my Father that built a well of wisdom and peace inside of my body. It now emanates tangibly to those around me whether they recognize it as Christ or not. They know it is inexplicably different. It was through praise, Jesus began to take my body from glory to glory. It was in the desperation for the Father to draw closer in my life that I have found that He is all I need forever and ever.
The five year and ten year plan has begun to look a little different. Instead of having goals or freedom from these earthly things, my plan looks like learning how to face adversity with grace while loving myself and others well in the process. The five and ten year plan looks like extending compassion when I want to runaway from myself and others. The five and ten year plan looks like healing myself and extending the healing hands of Christ to my brothers and sisters who are tired and weak themselves. The five and ten year plan looks like slowing down and not rushing the process. The five and ten year plan looked like a quiet slow burn of pain, suffering, and struggle, yet birthed a radiant, empathetic, warrior for Christ. After all, the best things in life take time.
My new job description has been written in the book of life. It is to spend the days of my life gazing into the eyes of Christ. It is in His fiery gaze that every earthly suffering no longer bears weight. His mercy, kindness, and compassion sings a new song in my life. The best part of it all is that while I wait in the waiting room I am no longer wondering when it is going to be my turn. Instead, I focus on Him and how I get the honor and privilege of sharing with others the freedom found in praising and worshipping Christ through our actions. He is readily accessible and available to us all. We need to adjust our gaze to His so that he can do a work in our lives. Slowing down is not the enemy, it is when we lose sight to whom we belong that we find ourselves searching for answers that will never suffice. Turn your eyes to Jesus and watch the miracles unfold. Regardless of whether you come to Him at your highest and lowest points. He will always be the same consistent loving Father.