to Breathe…

November 13, 2010 § 4 Comments

Recently, a young person in our congregation left a message on my office desk (pictured here). I don’t know what I most enjoyed about the note – the smiley face or the sentiment. Either way, the message wasn’t lost on me.

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons upon us our family is about to kick into a kind of overdrive that will take us to the edge – it is our annual pastime where insanity ensues. Katherine teaches elementary music at a local school, and she leads our church Chorus. She is responsible for no less than three special Christmas programs. I preach an Advent series that culminates on Christmas Eve. On top of that, days after Christmas we will take our oldest daughter Emily to Florida where she will finish her college studies. For our entire household Christmas is always simultaneously wonderful and crazy – it’s hard to describe. We can’t wait for it and we barely survive it each year.

From the moment our oldest, our son, left home for college, I have been impacted by the realization that life is not a series of ‘stills’ that we can put aside to revisit when we have time. It is more one of impossible-to-pause ‘frames’ in a fast-running video. God gives us moments and either we breathe and enjoy them as they happen, or we race through so fast that when they are gone we barely remember that they even occurred.

That’s a tough concept for me. Being raised as part of a generation that found so much value and identity in work and accomplishment, the thought of stopping to breathe almost translates into an admission of laziness. And what it has produced in me is a ‘drivenness’ that turns sight-seeing into a horse race, holidays into madness (cf., and the ordinary into the frazzled.

But what I’ve learned is that very little, other than success, comes from living a treadmill existence – and that isn’t good enough – that love and community and friendship and all the vital dynamics of healthy relationships come from breathing in the people and events and seasons that God brings along the way.

Last year friends from the early days of our ministry came up from Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was truly one of the best we’ve ever enjoyed, because we were reminded that life’s experiences matter – when they happen and from that time on. We had nearly forgotten all those moments, good, bad, happy and sad. We nearly forgot how sweet life and relationships are when they are enjoyed with those you love.

And this delight is the foundational offering on which the Sabbath command is given. God calls it ‘rest’ but His intent is that we delight in Him and flourish in the lives, relationships and creation He has graced us with. Jesus embodies that delight and invites us to ultimately find that rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), to experience the fulfillment of ‘Sabbath’ and enjoy a taste of what was originally intended, and will one day yet be in the new heavens and the new earth. And that changes everything. Every relationship – every fresh discovery – every lovely landscape – every tasty meal – every beautiful song, or verse, or image – every sweet experience – all are intended as foretastes of an even greater reality that is already ours in Jesus.

So this year – this Thanksgiving – this Christmas – in the midst of the Khandjian household craziness – I am committed to taking this anonymous young messenger’s advice… I am going to try to remember to breathe. I hope you will too.

For this unfinished, driven one, this is Good News…


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