Stop, Look, & Listen SLOW

It’s Time to Slow – Stop, Look & Listen

Published February 25, 2017 on my closed blog ggmandy dot com

Inspired by FMF prompt: SLOW

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT 

Have you ever felt like you have been run down by a speeding train? 

photo by Malventosa @ Pixabay 

Did you know? “There’s an app for that! 🙂 When I was a kid, we were taught that when you come to a railroad track, STOP, LOOK, & LISTEN. Trains can only go where there are tracks, so pay attention. Don’t proceed until you come to a complete stop, then look and see if anything is coming, then listen for anything that might be coming down the tracks.

I wonder … 

Do you

STOP, LOOK  AND LISTEN before you proceed into your life?

The scriptures are full of examples and admonitions for us to slow and spend time with the Lord. Right from the beginning, God came in the cool of the day to speak with Adam (Genesis 3:8). Even before that God Himself rested after 6 days of work (Hebrews 4:4). Even Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds to pray. (Matthew 14:13-21)

And yet, we act as if we don’t really need to slow down. 

We jump out of bed in the morning, throw on some clothes, down a cup of coffee, and run out the door. Never once thinking of even a quick hello to the Lord or an invitation to Him to walk beside us throughout the day. It’s no wonder, we feel worn and weary.  

Matthew 11:28  Slow
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How Do We Slow Ourselves to Rest?

And what about our Sundays?  

When I was growing up, we did only what had to be done on Sundays. Even when the hay was ready to bale, it stayed on the ground for a day. Sundays were for attending church and resting. The most we ever did was maybe a “Sunday afternoon drive” or visiting family. 

I recall asking Dad once, 

cow  slow

“Why couldn’t the Lord allow the cows to give twice the milk on Saturday so that we wouldn’t have to milk them on Sunday as God did with providing manna to the Israelites?”  

His answer pricked my heart. 

“God might be willing to do that if we were willing to REALLY give Him the Sabbath.”  

You see, what I wanted was to be able to go and play and have fun, not to actually take the day to slow down and worship God. It seems that when we “slow down” we are still filling our lives with stimulants that do not allow us the opportunity to rest and to fellowship with God.  

There is little to no room for God.  

We come home from work or play and immediately, we turn on our radios, TV, and internet. 

No quiet for him to even get a word in edgewise. 

Take a look from a practical point of view. Phyllis Korkki, at the New York Times, says 

 “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion … and may even lead to bad health.”

I know for myself when I was working, I would get where I seemed to not be making progress in my work. The best thing I could do was to go take a walk around the block.  Breaks are helpful, so long as we aren’t using them to procrastinate. 

What about meditation? 

Studies show that regular meditation is a very beneficial activity. Anastasia Stephens lists seven benefits of meditation :

  • Increased Immunity 
  • Emotional Balance 
  • Increased Fertility 
  • Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Lowers blood pressure 
  •  Anti-inflammatory 
  • Calmness 

Now, who couldn’t use a few of those benefits!  

God told Joshua, 

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” 

So, if we want to prosper, we MUST spend time meditating on the Word of God. 

Musical Rests

rest slow

WHAT if THERE WERE NO RESTS IN MUSIC?

What kind of song would we get if only notes were played without regard to rests? 

I was a percussionist in the high school band. While the bells were my favorite, I also played the timpani. But many times there were long measures of rests between notes. This was no fun. Just counting beats.  

But these rests left time for tuning the instrument to the right note

And THEN, at the right moment, what an awesome timpani sound rolled out. 

We need these times of rest in our lives as well to tune ourselves to the drumbeat of God. 

John Ruskins said, 

“If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!”3 

God can only speak to us in the quiet.  

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If we never slow down and listen, there is no chance for God to minister to us.  

Oh, how He loves us and wants us to come and fellowship with Him. He wants to tell us so much.

If we would but stop, look and listen

Mandy

Easter in Place

How To Celebrate Easter in Place


This year we are facing a completely different Easter than any other year in our lives. I’ve celebrated different Easters but not like this… everyone in their own homes.

I am so grateful for the ability to gather together electronically. But you may say, “It won’t be the same”. However, this morning I happened upon a shared video of chapel service at my Alma Mater (Asbury University). The chaplains were still having chapel for the students even though they were spread all across the nation.

One chaplain noted that in a certain language the word “crisis” not only means impending trouble but “opportunity”. We have an opportunity to make something wonderful of this time. We can create new traditions and memorable moments together in our little families right in our living room.

Celebrate Easter

Sure we may not have new dresses or egg hunts and candy, but maybe, just maybe, or attention will turn to the hope of Easter. The Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. That He can restore hope and joy to our lives that may have been missing for a long long time.

Below I share several links to other suggestions for celebrating in place this Easter. But before that, I share this prayer from Romans 15:13…

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How to Celebrate in Place

Family Life ~ Stuck at Home for Easter

Soul Stops ~ 5 Tips for COVID-19

Mississippi Mom ~ 7 Ways to Prepare Your Hearts for Easter

One Thing Alone ~ 10 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Easter

Chuck Lawless ~ 8 Practical Ways to Celebrate Easter

Awana ~ 5 Ways to Easter in Place

Ever Thine Home ~How to Celebrate Good Friday and Easter at Home

Participate in Easter Worship “in Place”

If you would like a small church effect, I invite you to “attend” one of our services on Facebook. Godd there now and “LIKE” us and you should get notified when they go live.

Harvest Church of the Nazarene in Savannah, GA

Bloomingdale Church of the Nazarene

If you would prefer a larger church experience, I suggest Greg Laurie’s Church which also happens to also be called Harvest Church.

Harvest Church

May God Bless you this Easter!

Mandy Farmer
Sometimes you will find us linking up with these places.
Different EASTER

In the Dark ~ A Different Kind of Easter

Easter, for me, has always been a great day of celebration. A day of basking in the joy of the resurrection. But this year, it was different. We were in the dark.

You see, life has changed a lot for our family recently. Easter 2015, my husband was pastoring a church as he had been for nearly 40 years. Our children and I were deeply involved in his ministry, especially when it came to planning a celebration service such as Easter. The four of us spent much time studying the significance of Easter. We spent many hours reviewing videos and music finding just the right words to make Easter fresh, new, and alive. Something that would draw the people into the celebration, helping them realize what God had done for them. By the time Easter Sunday arrived, we were already filled beyond excitement. So ready to share the story and bring people to a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

But this year, it was different.

This time, we found ourselves on the other side of the picture. No longer in ministry, we were now sitting in the pews taking in a completely different view of the celebration. We were not involved in the planning and therefore; though we had read our Lenten Devotions, the excitement was much different.

Saturday before Easter

This time, our hearts felt the sadness of Saturday. Saturday, when hope was lost and followers of Christ wondered, “What in the world would happen now?” Everything that we had spent many years working toward seemed to be for naught.

The blinding darkness of a rainy day enveloped our day. Tears clouded our view and the ache in our hearts kept us from seeing beyond Saturday.

This was our own personal Saturday. 

But our church community was held stuck in “Saturday” as well.

That particular Saturday, was to be a joyous day of celebration. A wedding celebration, but instead we were saddened because the young bride-to-be was in a hospital having had a heart attack (at the young age of 35). She would indeed go home to heaven on Sunday. This was not the kind of resurrection Sunday we had been looking forward to.

It certainly did not feel like a time to celebrate.

Possibly, we could now relate to how the disciples may have felt on that Saturday.

Or maybe we felt much like the friends and family that stood around Lazarus’ grave only a week before wondering why did God allow this to happen?

Why did He not come to our aid?

Where was He?

—–

Oh, how we dread being in the dark.

The Light is always preferred to darkness.

We want to be able to see what is going on; to have at least a little bit of control of our situation. But the only way that our faith can grow is in the dark. Like a seed that must be planted in the cold, dark ground and remain there for days in order to sprout and come to life.

On Easter, we like being the one outside the grave, anticipating the resurrection. Watching and waiting, in the light. In the light, we know what’s going to happen. We know the end of the story and we can wait with anticipation.

But oh, it’s another thing to allow God to place us in the darkness to wait there.

 We can’t see what is happening, so we resist the dark. We get claustrophobic and resist the plan God has for us. Why can’t we understand that God places us in the dark for our own good? Sometimes, it is for our own protection because He loves us. He wants us to know we can trust Him in the darkness.

God is able to do His greatest work in the dark. Click To Tweet

Come. Think about Lazarus and his friends with me

Lazarus and his sisters were close friends of Jesus. (John 11:3)They loved Jesus greatly and He loved them. They spent a lot of time together whenever possible. Just as we, as Christians, can have a wonderful relationship with our Lord. We have lived for and with Jesus maybe for years. We love Him and we serve him expecting his blessings. But there is much to learn and the place to learn it is quite possibly is in the darkness of a Saturday.

Jesus stayed away so that God could be glorified. (John 11:4)

On Saturday, in the darkness, it may feel that Jesus is not there. And we wonder why does He not come to rescue us? Sure Jesus could have gone to them immediately and healed Lazarus. But how long would that last? How quickly would Lazarus and his friends have fallen back into the daily routines of life? Would their faith have been stretched? Would they have really grown to a new spiritual level? I think not. They had seen many miracles of healing and for Jesus to perform another miracle of healing would have only been par for the course. To raise Lazarus from the grave after 4 days ….. Now that would and did bring great glory to God because the impossible had been accomplished.

Jesus stayed away so that the disciples could have greater faith. (John 11:15) 

The disciples, Lazarus and his friends would soon need great faith. Jesus was just one week from going to the cross. They would need a strong faith to get through this trial. They would need great faith to hang on through Saturday. Maybe, if they had not just seen Lazarus raised up, they truly would have given up hope and lost all faith before Sunday came and God raised Jesus from the grave. Maybe, it is what got them through their next Saturday.

Imagine a surgeon, if you will.

If he were to take you to surgery and allow you to be awake for the procedure, most of us would not allow him to touch us. We would fear the pain of it, we would see the surgeon’s knife coming and run away. But when he “puts us in darkness” through anesthesia we remain quiet and still for the work to be done. We, too often, fight against entering the darkness. Why? Because we do not have enough faith in what God will do.

We really don’t have to fight Him, you know.

He really does have everything under control.

He knows what is best.

And when we look back at what he has done, we are amazed.

We celebrate in His Resurrection in a much greater way. And our faith grows to a new level just as promised in James 1

you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

So, you see. It may be Saturday for you right now, but Sunday’s coming!

Let God do His work in the dark. Have faith.

Expecting Great Things!

Mandy Farmer