Thursday, July 26, 2018

Slow-Me-Down Moments

Slow-me-down moments. It’s how I refer to those unexpected things in life that keep us from going full throttle all the time.  Truth be told, the world has sped up exponentially, and we tend to rush along with it, like a hamster in a treadmill, never making any progress.  But God slows us down.  A misplaced set of keys, an unlikely traffic jam in downtown Beckley, West Virginia, or maybe it is the person in front of me at the grocery store deciding today is the day she is going to bring in every competing ad for other stores and get the guaranteed discounted price – meet it or beat it! – for every item in her cart.  Sigh.  I look around at other lines and knowing my propensity to pick the one with such people ahead of me, I try to guess if it is more efficient to wait as she painstakingly pages through five different newspapers or to jump to another line.  Sigh.  Her best friend will be in the next line I choose.  Or maybe they have one of those coupon clubs where they all go together and every line is tainted with coupon clippers.  Their thrift is commendable.  Is it seniors’ day?  Oh, yeah, it is, because I’m here; I forget that I’m a senior, too.  Another sigh.  We all have these moments, slow-me-down moments, times when our schedule is ripped out of our control, and we . . . wait. 
     A cancer diagnosis is the mother of all slow-me-down moments.  Only it’s not a moment, it’s months, or years, or a lifetime of having our expected schedule thrown into the toilet and flushed away as our routine is dominated by things out of our control: scans, biopsies, consultations, surgery, radiation, chemo.  Endless doctor’s appointments, and endless bills.  And with all the time in the world in reception areas, in exam rooms, in surgery preparation, in recovery, on radiation tables, to just . . . wait. 
     Most people who follow this blog also follow my social media – thank you, by the way, for your support – and you know the outcome of my breast cancer: small stage 1-A tumor, surgery, five days of double-dose radiation, five years of hormone chemotherapy, and hey-presto! Cured.  The doctors pronounced me cancer-free with confidence.  You and I know that the medical teams were just being used by a gracious and healing God.  But what about these slow-me-down moments?  What about all the waiting?  Because cancer or no cancer, they come to all of us, and the question is, what is God doing with those moments? Why do we . . . wait?
     Psalm 27:13 & 14 says: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” When we hit a slow-me-down moment in the middle of our usual rush, remember this promise. It is the promise that no matter what we face, there is an eternal goodness waiting for us on the other side of death.  So if life in paradise is waiting for us, can’t we once in a while slow down and wait for God?  And instead of getting angry and fussy because we can’t rush around, maybe we can just take time to thank God for: a moment of peace.
     My mother-in-law got Alzheimer’s years ago, and she quickly lost all ability to rush around.  She was put in a perpetual slow-me-down moment, unable to function in normal ways.  We would sit outside and she would say, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?  Didn’t God give us a beautiful day?” and I would say, “Yes, Momma, He sure did.  It’s a beautiful day.”  Not five minutes later she would repeat, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?  Didn’t God give us a beautiful day?” And I would repeat, “Yes, Momma, He sure did.  It’s a beautiful day.”  Round and round we would go, and she sat and smiled with wonder.  I was caught in the terrible treadmill of watching her slow-me-down disease from the outside, but what a beautiful place she had to exist, where God had given her a beautiful day.  And she waited, patiently.  One day she passed away, and on earth we all wept, but she was in Heaven, finally cured and awake and aware, standing in the very presence of Jesus saying, “Thank you for all the beautiful days.” 
     Capitalize on all the slow-me-down moments.  Lost keys?  Pray to thank God that He knows where they are and ask to be shown.  Traffic jam?  Sing your favorite hymn.  Roll down the windows so everyone can join in.  Grocery line?  Thank God for food and the money to buy it.  Thank God for the example of the coupon clippers.  Pray that their thrift is making their table full of all that they need.  Cancer?  Alzheimer’s?  Thank Jesus, the Great Physician, for the healing He gives directly and through doctors who can help. Use the down time to appreciate what still remains, and all the good that comes.  Thank God for each beautiful day.  And know that Heaven is worth waiting for, where there will be no more sin or sickness or sorrow ever.  Be strong.  Let your heart take courage.  Wait for the LORD, yea, wait for the LORD!