This morning the pastor began his sermon by quoting my favorite Psalm;
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
He had my attention. Then the reverend told the story of a logger challenging another to a contest of chopping down trees. “The one with the most chopped wood at the end is the winner.” The challenged accepted and they met the following morning at dawn. The challenger yelled; “Go!” and began swinging his axe with all his might and at great speed. The challenged swung his axe at a steady, but slower, rate. The challenger went as hard as he could all morning, ate a short lunch, and then resumed his feverish pace until the sunset. He knew he had won. How could he not? His speed, strength, and stamina were unmatched by the challenged. In fact, during the day, when he’d stop to wipe his brow, it seemed every time he looked the other logger was sitting down and resting. However, when both men looked at the two piles the challenger was flabbergasted and admitted his opponent’s pile of wood was bigger than his. “How could that be?” he asked. “I worked longer, stronger and faster!” “True,’ said the winner; ‘but when I rested I was sharpening my axe.”
A simple but important lesson. Sometimes we are so fixated on “what we have to do!” that we forget to rest. We are overworked and overwhelmed. What we need is rest. Rest restores the body, mind, and spirit. In our culture, resting is frowned upon. This is because we’ve forgotten the difference between being at rest and being lazy.
“Drip, drip, drip.” For a homeowner there aren’t too many sounds which make your anxiety and frustrations rise. This morning, after washing the dishes, I began to make a pot of coffee and heard a noise which sounded like water splashing on a surface. I began to look around and finally noticed liquid coming out from the dishwasher. Our old farmhouse has lots of eccentricities and one of them is the dishwasher leaks occasionally when the clothes washer and sink drain at the same time. We’ve had a plumber look at the problem and, while aggravating, will require a significant undertaking and monies to fix the problem. Until we can afford it we try our best not to let the bottom of the dishwasher fill up and begin to spill over to the kitchen floor. I grabbed every dirty towel I could find in the laundry room and cleaned up the mess.
Afterwards I thought about how life can be similar. Most days difficulties and problems spill into our lives and we’re able to deal with and dispose of it. However, there are seasons when chaos, hurt, doubt and confusion rush into our lives like a torrent and we are overwhelmed. We feel helpless as problems and pain seemingly flood every corner of our existence. Wisdom tells us there’s no shame in admitting life can sometimes be too much for us to handle and, with newfound humility, begin cleaning up the mess.