Have you ever watched Escape to the Country? On the show, individuals and couples work with a realtor to find a new home nestled in the English countryside. The view is always an important factor. The motivation for the move to the country is often the vision of a slower pace of life in a beautiful place. While most of us cannot escape to the English countryside we can realize a new vision for our lives.
Growing up as a child in rural America, autumn was a time to harvest crops. We gathered potatoes from our garden and stored them in large gunny sacks in the cellar. We shucked beans and took our fresh sweet corn off the cobs and froze it. My mom made apple pies in large batches so we could store them up to enjoy on a cold winter day. Fall was a time of preparation. It was a time of building up our reserves with the overflow of the abundance of the harvest. All the preparations brought an ease and quiet confidence knowing we had what we needed.
I recall Eugene Peterson sharing a moment of insight he had as a young pastor. He realized his outside was bigger than his inside. He had a large crop of activities and obligations but lacked a storehouse of inner provisions. His outside life had become bigger than his inner life. He realized, “How can I lead people into the quiet place beside still waters if I am in perpetual motion?”
He decided to change the rhythm of his life. In time, he felt slower and larger on the inside. He grew a quiet confidence and strength. It became so real that others could feel it when they were around him. Many have commented on Eugene Peterson’s smile and how there was a sense of joy that came from him. I remember hearing someone say that to sit next to him was like being beside still waters.
As the leaves change, the days shorten, and temperatures cool, it’s a great time to gather a new vision for our lives. It’s a great time to build up our reserves. It’s a good time to look at the rhythms of our life and adjust our focus from the outside to the inside.
Few of us will be freezing beans or sweet corn or apple pies this fall. We will not be stuffing potatoes in gunny sacks but we can build up our reserves. We can move toward an ever growing quiet confidence and strength. It is a good time to remember what we have. We are offered life in abundance from God. He has promised to provide for us and care for us. He is not concerned about the problems of this world. They are not too big for Him.
It’s a good time to enjoy a new rhythm of life that is less hurried and more steady: more still waters and less rushing rapids. Now is a good time to learn more about what it means to be slower on the inside; to move beyond yourself and the things of life to the one who is life. He can renew your soul. He says,“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life… learn the unforced rhythms of grace… learn to live freely and lightly." (Mt 11:28-30, MSG)
What do you see when you look at your life? What’s your view?
Which is bigger - your inside or your outside?
What can you do to move toward living more freely and lightly?