Last night we had a small group gathering at our house. It was the final gathering after a fall semester of weekly studies, and so while our conversation involved aspects of our faith, the setting was more light hearted and a touch festive. We shared food, laughs, stories from our week, and even let the kids stay up late.
While my wife and I were sitting on the couch visiting with our small group, we both noticed several things about our family room. First, the dusting liquid and cloth were still sitting on the book shelf—evidence that we had cleaned but not put away the cleaning products. Next, several Christmas decorations were strewn about on a different shelf, because I had put them up there just for a moment so that our two-year-old boy did not grab them. One moment ended up being days I guess. Four Rubbermaid bins were stacked in a corner, each of them holding a variety of Christmas décor that still needs to be hung, and a box of lights that I need to return to Canadian Tire was sitting on yet another shelf. To top it all off, I took the handrail for the basement stairs off the wall so that I did not spill paint on it while we painted…last fall…and I took it out of the crawl space recently to put back on the wall but never actually did it. The rail was lying on top of the piano.
The scene that I have just described for you might be something like nightmare meets social gathering. However, I’m not sure anyone noticed or—hopefully—even cared. You see, Mandy and I were away all weekend at a youth retreat and just arrived home a few hours before the small group event. We could have said “Hi” to the kids and then ran off the clean the family room. Instead, Mandy took a peaceful shower, and I laid on a bed while my daughter demonstrated a variety of back massage techniques she had picked up from a cartoon she watched (the turtle massage was the best).
Mandy and I took a “peace out,” because sometimes the biggest obstacles to peaceful moments in our lives are the obstacles we create ourselves.
I recently invited two ministry colleagues to a youth pastors’ meeting I was hosting to share wisdom about their journey in pastoral ministry. They reminded us about the Israelites and the manna—there was fresh food for gather each morning that would be sufficient for the day. However, some high-capacity and perhaps entrepreneurial Israelites decided they would gather extra manna to save it for a future day. The next morning, however, the extra manna they collected had gone rotten. The point is this—if we fail to distinguish what needs to be done from what we would like to have done, every moment we steal from what could be “peace out” time in our life will cause rot to set in at some level.
We might experience physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual symptoms of rot because we failed to “peace out” when the opportunity was presented to us.
Start a new trend this season of advent, and determine to “peace out” at least once each day. Just sit in your chair, sip on tea, stare into the lighted tree, and feel the warmth of the fireplace (or the furnace vent). Dishes, laundry, cooking, and clutter will always be with you. But this Christmas moment, this year, these memories, they are only for right now. Peace out!
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