Have you ever noticed that our lives never seem to leave the fast lane? Everything seems to operate at breakneck speed, and pauses must be carefully and deliberately orchestrated if they are ever to be experienced! As a high-energy person, I generally thrive with a busy schedule; however, the past few years have been too frenetic even for me. Events I await with anticipation end up seeming scrunched in between other demands that scream for attention; those long-awaited pleasures then become far too quickly a thing of the past. Even though the past six months were rich in terms of experiences, I was not actually able to savor anything on more than a surface level. After all, even the best of gourmet meals may as well be a fast-food hamburger if that meal is choked down without even chewing it! Similarly, the pleasures of life cease to be pleasurable if we do not compel ourselves to actually stop long enough to experience the joys of the PAUSE! Indeed, I have MUCH for which to be profoundly thankful; my gratitude list is too long to enumerate. Nonetheless, recently I have missed out on the joys associated with those people, things, and opportunities on my gratitude list, simply because I have been moving too fast and feeling too anxious about the next task to be completed.
Suddenly, I recognized the presence of the joy-stealer and realized that he had been stalking me for several months! Specifically, the taste of a spritz cookie I baked using my mother’s recipe brought this revelation of joy and how I had missed it! In Marcel Proust’s book, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, one bite of a madeleine cookie evoked a tidal wave of memories from the author’s childhood. For me, that spritz cookie caused me to experience a sudden breakthrough of vibrant joy that I had not felt in a long time.
After all, Jesus warned us about the thief: “ The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure” John 10:10 (CJB). The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy everything in my life that expresses God’s Presence: my faith, my peace, my health, my joy. When I notice my joy has evaporated, I need to remember that I have an enemy; somehow I had allowed him to plunder my joy. Isn’t it wonderful that God can use such an insignificant thing as a small cookie to reveal to me my need for a fresh infilling of His joy and my need to pause long enough to savor it?
How do I take back what has been stolen? The first step is to stop and reflect long enough to recognize its absence. The second step is to repent for careening thoughtlessly along the highway of life with only the goal (however noble) in mind. The third step is to ask Jesus, the ever-available Restorer, to make my heart new and restore to me the joy of my salvation (see Psalm 51).
Father, empower me to experience fully Your Presence and goodness in the little delights of this holy-day season! Grow larger in my heart, in Jesus’ Name!