As I grow older, I am learning it’s necessary to stop.
Most days I am pursuing plans and agenda to meet my goals. It’s easy to let these plans and agendas become idols. I become embroiled in getting things done and achieving the goals.
It never fails. The harder I work the more the goals become vague and elusive. So I work harder to achieve them. I do this day in and day out without ever stopping.
When this happens I must stop.
I want to talk to you a moment about learning to stop. I am realizing that stopping is a spiritual discipline.
We all want to achieve something in this life. We all have dreams and aspirations. We have wagered our lives hoping that how we invest our today will secure our goals for tomorrow.
What we pursue is important, otherwise why would we invest so much time and energy in trying to it. Many of us pursue career or romance; we pursue health money; we’re pursue status or notoriety. We pursue excellence for our children or happiness in our marriage
We live in a fast-paced environment that make me feel rushed and overwhelmed. I wake up and go on the offense. I attack life and attempt to master it through my schedules and my plans.
Let’s be honest. We are all pursuing something
I have been thinking about this lately. I’v been wondering what it is I am after and is it truly worth all of the energy I am expending?
The truth is, I don’t stop. I find it impossible to just be present in the moment. I have a hard time being in the now.
The Christian life offers me a way forward. As I encounter God and get to know Him, I am forced to stop. Otherwise, I will turn God into another thing I am pursuing.
God has both created and is creating. Genesis is clear: God created the cosmos and he created you and I in his image. This is significant and ideally has consequences with regards to how we live our lives.
The fact that we cannot stop indicates that we either won’t stop or don’t know how to stop.
The sort of stopping I am referring to here is the complete and utter letting go of our plans and dream and desires. To stop and embrace what God has ordained for our lives.
Yet many of us find this nearly impossible. We can’t fathom non-doing. Doing is what it means to be alive; to pursue the cause and goals we’ve established for ourselves so that when we come to the end of it, as we all inevitably do, we conclude that we have played the game and played it well and that our life of X amount of days has mattered.
But what we endeavor for often seems obsolete and simplistic when we are serious. What we pursue, if I may, is trite and irresponsible in the sense that we pursue our own cause, our own desires. As if life is meant to be a frenzy of looting and taking for ourselves while we’re here.
Jesus shows us a different way:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:25-34).
Jesus confirms on behalf of the father that we are to trust him and follow him and give god the day. Jesus advocates that we not worry and this is precisely what we need to stop. Jesus asks that we leave the working and doing to the Father for the Father always has our best interest. He’s got the universe and that includes our lives.
This give us the opportunity for us to stop. It’s only in this context in fact, that we really can stop and trust God.
This is our call and command. We are to stop and leave the worrying to God. This is nearly impossible for most of us for if we’re honest (and shouldn’t we be always) we are by nature worriers. Not warriors but worriers. We categorically do not trust God to provide nor to take care of and therefore we are reluctant to stop.
Stopping is only possible when we leave the worrying to God. Stopping is only possible when we realize that God isn’t interested in what we do or accomplish. Rather, God’s got this. He’s got the whole universe and that means he has our lives.
I don’t know what it will look like for you to stop. Perhaps you will be overwhelmed by the stillness of it all and that will make you utterly uncomfortable and you will return to you doing ways. The questions is not whether you will stop but why won’t you stop. And that leads to the question: do you trust God enough to stop? Because to truly stop means that you have given God the charge of the doing and that you are comfortable with the outcome. This isn’t so much decided as it is experienced. Stopping means that we pause from the doing so that we can trust God.
You cannot stop until you trust and you cannot trust until you stop. This is the paradox and one that requires we have faith and trust in God’s sovereignty.
Stopping means we’ve gotten to a place where we trust God with the universe and subsequently our lives. We mustn’t be trite; stopping to rest is ridiculously simplistic if we resign it to creating margin in our schedule so that we can ultimately rest to purse more of ourselves.
The Christian life demands we stop to acknowledge a sovereign God that is both ruling the universe as he also rules our lives.
We must learn to stop our pursuits and reflect on the work God would have us do.