Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Before Sunrise

I really enjoy the movie, Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. It's basically one long conversation between a young American man who convinces a young French woman to get off a train in Vienna to get to know each other before his flight leaves the next morning. There is no action. No fight scenes. It's just about 2 people getting to know each other rather quickly as they toured one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

There was one scene that I will not forget. The two protagonists were sitting on the back of the bus and Ethan Hawke's character (Jesse) says that you never hear someone say, "Because of the time I saved using my word processor, I'm going to use that time to go meditate." That floored me. He was right!

We save all of this time in doing things quicker, but to what end?

I sometimes get worried that the more efficient we become at doing things, we will get so busy that life will pass us by and we will miss life altogether.

One of the most difficult passages that I deal with is Psalm 46:10. To give you context, the entire Psalm is about people fighting each other and God has to say, "Cease striving and know that I am God." (NASB) Some translations say, "Be still and know that I am God." However, I like the NASB translation. There is actual battle going on.

Our lives can be like a battle. We rush to do this. People go a few miles over the speed limit, thinking that it's OK to sin a little by breaking this law. I'm not certain why they think that. The law says there is a certain speed limit and they have the audacity to think that it's OK to go faster. I never understood that reasoning.

Why is it so important to be so quick? Why do we have to rush? What would happen if we actually force ourselves to slow down and experience God?

While in seminary, I took a class on prayer. One of the requirements we had to do was to take an entire day to do nothing but pray. That was a huge challenge for me! I also must admit that I have not done that since then, but I remember the blessing I had just doing that for one day. At first, all I could think about was myself. At the end of the day, all I could think about was how lovely it was to be in the presence of God.

This is a discipline that one needs to work at, too. If you start "cold turkey," you might get frustrated. Start slowly. Be silent for 5 minutes first, then gradually work your way up.

When we pray collectively at church, I sometimes get the feeling that people are uncomfortable when there is silence, forgetting that prayer is a two-way conversation. Being in the presence of God and listening to him instead of always talking can be the most rewarding experience we have in our life. I would encourage you to try it.

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