School is almost out for the year. Ah…that blessed promise of freedom. We all rejoice in the coming recess.
My young people suddenly take on a slight lilt in their voices. They smile more easily. Even the rush of compiling projects, taking placement tests, and cramming for final exams doesn’t dampen their bubbling enthusiasm.
A change is coming and it is a welcome one.
I too feel the shift happening. There’s this idea of release that the red lettered date on my calendar holds.
It is whispering to me “Come on. Just a little farther. You can rest when you get to that point. Pray for strength, but push on.”
As we get older, we aren't fooled. We know that the finishing of a project only opens space for another to take its place.
The vacation means returning to loads of laundry, appointments that have been kept waiting, and unopened emails enough to make you consider closing your account and starting a new one.
We aren’t naïve enough to think we’re actually DONE done. Ha!
But that isn’t how God wants us to look at the recesses of life. He has given them to us as a gift. Taking a break is part of his plan. It’s not the end of his plan.
How many times must we grow up enough to appreciate the fact that one of the purposes of the work is to more fully appreciate the breaks?
In 1994 I heard Neal A. Maxwell teach in a devotional:
“Given all you and I yet lack in our spiritual symmetry and character formation, no wonder God must use so intensively the little time available to develop each of us in this brief, second estate. One’s life, therefore, is brevity compared to eternity—like being dropped off by a parent for a day at school. But what a day!”
I chuckled along with the rest of the audience. Twenty four years later, when we feel major character formation taking place in our lives, my hubby and I will still arch an eyebrow at one another, shake our heads and say “But what a day!”
“For the serious disciple the resulting urgency means there can be few extended reveries and recesses and certainly no sabbaticals—all this in order to hasten God’s relentless remodeling of each of us! Parenthetically, I don’t know how it is for you, but though the reveries, the special moments come, they are not extended. Soon the drumroll of events, even difficulties, resumes. There is so much to get done in the brief time we have in this mortal classroom.” (“Called to Serve”, BYU Speeches, 1994. https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell_called-serve/)
There is always much to get done. On every front.
Yet God give us breaks.
A Chance for Rest
With a chance to lift our nose from the grindstone, we can sit back on our heels, or push back from our desks, look around and remember there is a purpose to all of this work.
It builds out the purpose of our lives.
Renewal best happens when the work is left to sit, our intense focus is softened, and we allow our burdened shoulders to drop.
A Chance for Reorganization
With this new vantage point, we can easily see how we have painted ourselves into corners or allowed fires to burn out of control.
We then eagerly reprioritize, restructure, and recommit to putting first things first with God, our loved ones, and then ourselves.
Seeking out our dearest relationships brings us back into the rest waiting in connection and belonging.
A Chance for Rejoicing
Once we find ourselves rested and reunited, we naturally rejoice in our breaks.
We might wipe off the picnic table and call friends and family over to rejoice in the break with us.
Or it could provide time to ponder on and write about our blessings.
Perhaps it’s looks like taking our horse up into the mountains to enjoy him and the beauty of nature that is patiently waiting for us, mere minutes away from our daily grind.
What gifts God has, waiting to be opened, in our breaks.
Let’s make a pact right here and right now:
We will not squander them.
Delighted you’re here.