Recently, I returned from a trip overseas with a group of men who have never been outside of the US. I always enjoy watching people experience other cultures for the first time and the bristling they do against the way things work. It’s not that I like to see them squirm, I just like to guide them through and interpret what they see and experience.
These were both fairly, professional businessmen who are used to getting their way and seeing things done their way. Their way is typical “American,” and they often have a hard time adjusting to the way of life this new culture operates in. The tighter they hold on to their American-ness, the more frustrated they become. I have to constantly reassure them, “It’s ok, we are on their time here.”
The US is far more concerned about schedules and promptness that most foreign cultures I have visited. There have been times a 9am service didn’t get started until 11am, and a hotel pickup at 8am didn’t happen until 10. Both of these happened on this trip, in fact, nothing really ever went according to “schedule.”
But “schedule” was really the issue. We Americans are really, generally speaking, way too glued to a very, rigid schedule. In fact, maybe to a detriment. I know I am guilty of this addiction, under the guise of efficiency and expediency. But frankly, I rather enjoy these trips and take them as an opportunity to relax my schedule a little more than normal . . . at least in the timing of things.
I work hard to put myself at ease and those who travel with me, and just let ourselves be relaxed, at peace with the absence of urgency. It can be quite refreshing if we can allow ourselves to let peace rule in our minds and hearts.
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:12–15 KJV
This is such an important concept to grasp and Paul directs the Colossians to action. Yes, to action. This verb, “let rule,” is work. At first glance, we would assume that he is encouraging us to just relax and “let it happen.” But the verb is active and would indicate we have to do some work to “let Him rule so that we can have peace.”
Even though I love my job, love the travel, love the people that I serve and serve with, I still need rest . . . a little peace from time to time. But it doesn’t just happen, I have to plan it. I have to set time aside, often go away with no meetings or people, just isolate. I have to isolate from people, TV, email, the internet, social media. Really, to get some real peace, I need to get a break from all of it. Usually, real peace of God might even take days before my brain stops thinking of my ministry schedule and obligations and gets properly focused on Him. When that begins to happen, peace can once again rule.
Maybe peace is the furthest thing from your experience right now. Tragically, many of you who serve in ministry find yourselves there. That is so dangerous. We were not made for sustained anxiety and stress, and God wants nothing more than to give you peace. So let it happen. Make a plan for peace of God. Find how you can detoxify your overscheduled, overstressed, and overworked life and ministry, and make it one final plan before you experience the freedom and joy that comes with “letting the peace of God rule in your heart.” And don’t go so long in between these times of rest.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
April 12, 2022