Last week, I was doing some writing in the park behind my apartment when I was interrupted by an intense game of tag. A kid named Sam was not playing very nicely with the others and a democratic young fellow was attempting to restore the peace.
Sam was taunting the younger kids, “you can’t catch me, I’m too fast for you!” They were sprinting, trying to tag him, but frustration was mounting on their faces. I saw it and so did one of the older boys. He pursed his lips and stood there for a moment before walking to the slide and crying out: “Wait, guys! Pause!”
Sure enough, the other boys froze and began discussing the game. Before long, they’d decided on a fairer way to play.
Sitting on the park bench, I sucked in my breath and stared at the scene.
How many times have I wanted to press pause in my own game of tag? My own running around trying to master this life. Sometimes it’s fun and I tag all the to-dos and escape all the to-don’ts. But sometimes it’s a twisted game and I sprint to escape adulthood or conviction or lingering fear. It’s multifaceted, this game, and I know it well. My heart is far too easily sucked into its deceptive allure.
And I wonder: What if I could press pause? What if it were that easy?
My mind immediately flits to my current struggle with control, a battle that ebbs and flows. Right now, I’m doing okay. I’m fighting hard to run from it instead of to it. I’m resisting the urge wrap myself in those safe, comfortable, iron chains. But the spiritual and emotion exercise is exhausting.
What would it be like if I could just pause? What would it be like to not have to resist?
Scripture tells us that God has “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son.” But some days don’t feel like that. If we’re honest, we are often running back and forth between the light of Christ and the darkness of the world- whether by our own choice or not. Some days feel like a never-ending game of tag.
So where’s the hope? If we can’t press pause and we can’t rest from the spiritual warfare, where can we go?
I think back to those boys on the playground: Sam was running hard after his ego and the little ones were trying to catch approval. But all chaos stopped when the brown-eyed diplomat said: “Pause!”
Maybe we can press pause. Maybe every time we stop and pray, we are in effect, pausing. It’s our lifeline in the middle of the rush of life, good and bad, that so easily consumes us. Maybe prayer is our pause.
But it’s also our action; prayer invigorates our spirits and refocuses our attention. It helps us discern: Am I chasing after something I shouldn’t? Am I running from something I need to confront?
In the busy lives that we live, let us not forget the power of prayer. My Spring has been filled with unpredictable, challenging blessings. Yet, each one has given me another opportunity to truly make this A Prayerful 2018.
I don’t fully understand prayer, but I do think I’m learning. I’m learning that sometimes I chase the wrong things and that a quick convo with God helps redirect me so I am chasing Him alone. I’m learning to press pause more often and find my rest in Him. I hope you will as well.