It’s been a crazy couple of weeks since coming back from some time away at the little old house in Vermont that my husband and I still call home, even though I am now serving as a pastor just a tad bit below the Mason Dixon line.
With Labor Day ushering in the unofficial end of summer and grocery stores confirming summer’s passing with a plethora of pumpkin flavored everything, yes, everything, from pumpkin pasta sauce to pumpkin pancake syrup—get it now because it is, as the label says, for a limited time only—life has gone from a calm “it will all get done” to a frenzied “it needs to get done now.”
Committee meetings at church have taken up most of my nights as plans for worship, missions and church school get underway for this “pumpkin-flavored” season we are in. For the most part these meetings have been energizing, with new ways of serving and reaching others being added into the mix of the good old, tried and true ways of how we do church. But as I sip my pumpkin flavored cappuccino, I can’t shake this feeling that God is asking something more of us. Not in the way of more innovative ideas, creative outreach programs or busy work. Rather more of being present to God in the way of praying rather than planning and listening rather than speaking and being rather than always doing.
The other day at the free lunch my church hosts for those in the community, I was talking with an elderly gentleman who I jokingly deputized as my co-pastor because of his words of wisdom he always brings to me every time we meet. For me it is truly a God moment when we sit down together because his words he shares with me are always in line with what is already on my heart. So imagine my awe when my newly deputized co-pastor got serious in the middle of our laughter and jokes, placed his frail, aged hand on mine, and said, “Don’t ever lose sight of God’s plans for you. Don’t ever forget to listen to God in the noise all around you. For we are here on earth for a limited time only.”
I was taken aback for I knew exactly what he was talking about. In the blessed stillness of my time recently spent in Vermont, where the satellite TV has been disconnected as I am not up there enough to justify the monthly cost, and the wireless Internet service put on hold for the same reason, and where the bars on my cell phone are non-existent, I found my steps getting back in sync with God’s.
The holy rhythm of life gave back an energy that no amount of caffeine could ever give. The silent communion of my heart with God’s that I had while sitting on the top of the hill that makes up our five acres, with the choir of birds singing a choral benediction closing out my prayer time, filled me with ideas and God possibilities. And the brilliance of the starlit sky, not dimmed by man’s need to have artificial light to illumine the darkness, reminded me once again that God’s light is the most beautiful light ever in our lives.
That was then. This is now.
The TV is back on. The Internet is also connected. The cell phone has many bars so that calls can get through. And the brilliance of that starlit sky I marveled at a few weeks ago? After a long meeting last night I came home and paused on the porch before going inside and found what I had expected to find. I looked up at the sky and the stars weren’t as bright as I had hoped. What human ingenuity thought was a good idea had actually washed away the brilliance of God’s creation.
God is asking more of us. Not more in terms of what we can do or produce, but more of our hearts and our trust and our devotion and our love.
For we, too, have a “for a limited time only” label on us, so why don’t we savor the time we have and really get our steps in sync with God’s.