Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not Quite So Fast

We like fast, don't we?  Express Line. Drop a Dress Size This Week. High Speed Internet Access. Look Younger Overnight . Copy and Paste (an answer to my prayers). Spray Tan.  Compared to the good old days, we have it made in the 21st century.

Which is why I found this basket of products at The Cove, Billy Graham Training Center, so funny: Good Hair Day shampoo, In Good Condition hair conditioner, and Peace Be Still calming face and body lotion.  

If only hair styling was this simple. My one good hair day every month is the day I visit the salon, and honestly, that's it.  For decades, I've longed for a good hair day to equal "brush hair and wear pony tail."  I could buy every tool invented and still detest styling my hair.  Good Hair Day shampoo.  Promises, Promises. That's only step one.   In Good Condition hair conditioner isn't a stretch, though.  I'm all about conditioners, lotions, creams, and sun screens.  The faster they work, the better. 

I guess the product in the basket I found the most thought provoking was Peace Be Still calming face and body lotion.  IF ONLY.

James - Point. Lobos,
Carmel, Calif.
Imagine all we had to do every day was use Peace Be Still lotion and Voilá! We're good for the day.  We live with teenagers? No worries.  Our jobs are on the line? No problem. Our health is questionable? It's all good.  We've applied our lotion and now have quick and easy peace.  No up dog, down dog, tortoise or lotus position required.

I grew up as a constant worrier with frequent insomnia. Even though I went to church and learned Jesus was the Prince of Peace, I wrestled with depression, so for decades, peace was one thing I absolutely couldn't grasp but earnestly prayed for.  I want peace, and I want it NOW! 

Pitkins Curve
Big Sur, Calif.
At The Cove, I was lucky enough to hear Bob Hostetler, author of The Red Letter Life: 17 Words from Jesus to Inspire Simple, Practical, Purposeful Living.  As encouragement to us as writers, Bob said something I desperately needed to hear.  "We look for quick success."  Then, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche,  "God looks for a long obedience in the same direction."

But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. Proverbs 1:33

Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. Psalm 119:165

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79

Peace doesn't come instantly anymore than it comes in a calming body lotion. God says listen to me and love my instructions, and those two practices are neither fast nor natural. Instructions are only useful if they're followed.  Both practices require time.  They require time with the Prince of Peace. Notice Luke writes guide us to the path of peace. Listening and loving instruction begin with "a long obedience in the same direction." 

I'll always have worries because I'll always have troubles.  Sometimes in the middle of those worries, I do a great deal of talking and striving.  I've discovered that peace comes when I'm quiet long enough to listen and follow instructions.  The long enough is not minutes or hours.  Sometimes it's days or months or years.  Following God's instructions, no matter how much I fight them, protects me from sin, which leads me down the right path.  

In The Red Letter Life, Hostetler encourages readers to copy a paragraph that is Eugene Patterson's definition of Repentance from his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.  Teshuvah, repentance, isn't an emotion.  It's a turning.  It's a decision to listen and love instruction. The last sentence of the paragraph states, "Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace."

Are you looking for peace? It's a path, not a fast acting potion. It takes time. Slow down and listen, turn, and follow.