While visiting a store to pick up some Christmas presents, I paused long enough to realize all of the sounds that filled my ears.
Shopping carts rolling on the floor, the chatter of voices, clanking of merchandise as it landed in carts and the sporadic conversations between a parent and child. It was all consuming.
We are constantly being distracted during the Holidays. Our minds work overtime to try and keep shopping lists, sale prices, coupons, Aunt Julie’s favorite kind of pajamas and all the other details straight in our mind while navigating people, lines and all the clutter of the background noise that surrounds us.
This isn’t just when we are shopping at the mall is it?
You arrive home from picking up your kids at school, open the refrigerator to find a quick meal that you can serve in 10 minutes. Feed everyone, then get them dressed because it is off to their sports game, recital or work Christmas party that you still need to grab that white elephant gift for.
This is a busy time of year for everyone.
Tonight, while putting my son to bed, I caught myself lying to him without saying a word.
Before we finished with our prayers and talking about his day, my thoughts were already focused on what I had to do before I went to bed. When I went to kiss him goodnight, I paused and noticed that my body language was showing him that I didn’t care.
My feet were already on the floor, exiting the room before I finished putting him to bed. As I leaned in to give him a kiss, that moment felt more like obligation than joy. I was in a rush to go and get things done instead of genuinely enjoying the moment.
Have you ever been so focused on doing, that you allowed precious moments to slip through your fingers?
Is your shopping list so long that time doesn’t allow you to put thought into gifts you buy then you throw random things in your cart, just to check that person off your list?
Do the echoes of voices, clanging of carts, and navigating long lines keep you from seeing the person in front of you?
I wonder if you can relate to these things.
Personally, I have experienced each of these in the past week. Something clicked as I was putting my son to bed and I realized that the hustle and bustle can steal my joy.
As I was laying with him, out of obligation and not intention, the word LINGER popped in my head. I stopped the “exit slide” from his bed and lingered with him for a few more moments.
He began to open up about his day. My mind was still racing towards the to-do list for the night but I focused on not just saying “Uh-huh”. The nudge to linger forced me to listen to what he had to say. We talked, we giggled and we looked each other in the eye. It didn’t last long but when I look back on my day, I realized we shared a special moment together.
Jesus modeled the discipline of being present and lingering.
I love the example in the book of Mark when Jesus was on his way to see Jairus’ little daughter who was dying. On the way, crowd’s surrounded Jesus.
In the crowd was a woman who had been suffering with bleeding for twelve years. She believed that if she could just touch the edge of his cloak she would be healed.
Imagine, for a moment, you are on your way to heal a little girl who is dying. You are being hurried by a panicked father who wants to get you to his daughter as soon as possible. Crowds are surrounding you, many of them have heard amazing stories and are realizing that you are the one they have heard about.
Voices mummering all around you. People pushing into you, touching you, crowding you. The shuffling of feet as the crowd followed you closely, words, the smells, the chaos. A woman from the crowd gently touches the hem of your cloak, would you have noticed her?
Would you have stopped and lingered in the midst of the hustle and bustle and the pressure to move on?
Let’s see what Jesus did in this moment.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5: 30-34
Jesus not only noticed one person touching the hem of his cloak while in the middle of a crowd, but He stopped and lingered. In the short time that He lingered a woman was healed, and a bond was formed.
What would be different if you took the time to linger?
How about deeper relationships with God and those around us? Maybe more significance for others as we take the time to give meaningful gifts instead of convenient ones? Maybe the opportunity to meet a need around us instead of brushing it off to hurry on?
You may be thinking, “lingering would be awesome, but the bottom line is there is not enough time!” If you were thinking that, let’s look at what linger really means.
To linger simply means… slow to end.
It doesn’t mean you have to spend hours worrying about the next thing on your “to-do” list. Linger means taking your foot off the floor and spending a little extra time putting your son to bed. Linger long enough to learn more about your friend that just needs to talk. Linger long enough to be there for the person that God nudges you to spend time with.
Let’s intentionally take a few moments to linger in this busy season.
When you are out shopping, look around at the people in your view, take a moment to linger.
While your mind is racing onto the next thing, the next event, the next… take a moment to linger.
Driving out of your familiar neighborhood all decorated with lights, take a moment to linger.
As you are sitting with family enjoying a meal and you are thinking of dessert and clean-up, look at their faces, their mannerism’s, listen to their words, take a moment to linger.
Your favorite Christmas song is playing, take a moment to linger.
May each of us take a deep breath and allow the moments of our days to be slow to end.
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