Unplanned Moments

Unplanned Moments

Have you ever sat at a restaurant or coffee shop all by yourself, waiting for the other person to arrive? How uncomfortable does that make you feel? Do you get frustrated or annoyed? How quickly do you reach for your phone to “make the most” of these unplanned-for minutes?

What if we learned to treat those uncomfortable and unplanned moments as a gift? A gift to finally stop and observe the world around you. A gift to slow down your breathing and heart rate. A gift to engage our soul to God’s three-dimensional world rather than plunge mindlessly back into the matrix of a two-dimensional screen.

I recently read an article from Thomas Friedman explaining the gift of someone showing up late. Friedman said:
“On one of those occasions, I realized I didn’t care at all about my guest’s tardiness, so I said: ‘No, no, please — don’t apologize. In fact, you know what, thank you for being late!’ Because he was late ... I had minted time for myself. I had ‘found’ a few minutes to just sit and think. I was having fun eavesdropping on the couple at the next table (fascinating!) and people-watching the lobby (outrageous!). And, most important, in the pause, I had connected a couple of ideas I had been struggling with for days. So no apology was necessary. Hence: ‘Thank you for being late.’”

Learning to embrace the unplanned moments seems like a step in learning to walk in step with the Spirit.

Toward the end of Dallas Willard’s life, he wrote, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” And a pastor in Portland named John Mark Comer wrote a book inspired by the Willard quote, called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Comer believes it isn’t as much our busyness as it is our hurry that suffocates our souls today: “The problem isn’t when you have a lot to do; it’s when you have too much to do and the only way to keep the quota up is to hurry.”

As we have been going through this Advent season, we have been talking about how hurry seems to be sucking the hope, peace, joy, and love right out of our souls. It’s not just that we are doing a lot; it’s that we seem to be in a hurry to do it all!

We would be wise to slow ourselves down, enjoy our moments, and engage with what the Lord is doing all around us. The Apostle Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-25.)

What strikes me is that those who desire to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit are called to adjust our lives to the Spirit, not presume that He will adjust to ours. We walk with Him, at His pace.

When we come across those unplanned moments in our day, we can receive those moments as a gift for us to catch our breath, slow our heart rate, and check our soul to be in step with Him!