The pace of life has changed. That doesn’t mean that it has necessarily slowed, but it has undeniably changed. Quite often, we long for such a change, at least when we can dictate its limits. Just before the pandemic reached the East Coast, my family had the opportunity to take a cruise to the Bahamas. That was a new experience for us, and one that held great hope for getting us out of our routine and grind. It lived up to every hope we harbored. For four days, we slept in, sang karaoke, joined dance parties, and stormed the buffet whenever we felt like it! However, we had no more than returned to the car in Charleston when we realized the routine and grind from which we had just escaped no longer existed – no school, no church, no toilet paper.
It is a wholly different experience, is it not, when a “change of pace” is imposed rather sought after?
This is a pace I didn’t choose, I don’t understand, and over which I have little control. I worry now as much about what I shouldn’t do as I once did about what I should be doing. I’ve found myself chaffing under the protocols of social distancing, closed stores, and canceled events. And even my hands are chaffed from using so much hand sanitizer. Every day, it seems, reveals some new hurdle to jump, some accommodation to be made, some unexpected change to deal with.
Having lived with this imposed change of pace for six weeks, I will admit that I’ve had a couple of truths that this season has helped me to see more clearly.
First, under “normal” circumstances, the pace of life we create for ourselves is often so crowded with non-essential desires and activities that we confuse the importance of such things with that which is truly necessary. It is that confusion which makes us tired. And it’s that tiredness that makes us want to escape from the routines we create. At least for me, one of the redeeming features of the imposed change of pace is the realization that my routine is a burden of my own making that I’m struggling to carry. I need to off-load a few motives I’ve prioritized WAY too much.
Second, I’ve realized, at least re-learned, that God puts us in seasons of turmoil intentionally. His purpose is for our good, and for our realization that we must turn to Him, and Him alone, for help. In short, He does so in order that we will listen and will believe. Jesus says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt.6:33) That command only makes sense if one agrees that kingdom of God is worth seeking. And we’ll only agree with that when our kingdoms (whatever we cherish or try to manage) is shown to be lacking.
No one knows whether this is a short-lived season of if it’s the new normal. Either way, I pray for you and me that it will be a time God both reveals and impresses upon us that constantly being in His will is more important than how comforted or burdened we are by our pace of life.