We have been back in South Africa for only 2-weeks after our whirlwind trip to the States. People keep asking us how our holiday was and we all smile, boys included, and say, "lovely." It was indeed lovely to be home with our families and friends and our reunions were sweet. However, our time in America was anything but a holiday. We traveled up and down the east coast from North Carolina to Virginia, Kentucky to New York, New York to Maine, and then all the way back again. Richard calculated that we logged over 3700 miles in just three weeks on a borrowed car, (was such a gift from God, and thank you so very much). This is the same distance as driving from New York to Los Angeles and then a quarter of the way back across the U.S.A again.
Needless to say when we landed in Johannesburg, we all were spent. We were tired before we left South Africa and the extreme pace in the States, plus the added emotions of leaving home and country again, made all of us weepy and forgetful. The airport was a comedy of errors including driving off without our rented trailer attached to the back of the vehicle, having to pack and repack the van three times, and cutting my head open on the back of the van trying to cram all of our US loot in the back. All this was before we received a message 45 minutes into our 7 hour jaunt to our home on the South Coast. The phone call told us that in my fatigue I had taken another family's 2 black trunks. In my defense they were identical to our 12 trunks. The comedy of errors continued for the next several hours as we got lost several times trying to find this poor dad and his son, who were very gracious and simply happy to get their Christmas presents back.
Around 4 a.m., after a 16 hour flight and a 9 hour drive, we arrived at the farm Richard and Alex moved to while I was in America. Things went from bad to worse at this point and we all went into survival mode. The pace we kept for the next 24 hours while we cleaned, organized, unpacked, cried, (basically everything but slept), left us even more spent. Just when the dust started to settle we received another phone call from Johannesburg. My heart sank as I eyed the unopened black trunk in the corner of the room. Yep. I had taken another poor man's truck. I opened it to find sermon notes and a comprehensive approach to African evangelism, and the ever so quintessential African safari hat. I had not only stolen two men's trunks...I had stolen a flipping missionary's trunk.
This was the breaking point for us.We all had a good laugh and the tension seemed to evaporate. We recognized our urgent need for spiritual intervention and sent out the SOS requests for prayer. And the prayers came. The Scripture verses from dear prayer warriors poured over us. We were so enveloped in love that we slowly began to breathe again. The pace started to slow. The boys started sleeping and the sun began to shine ... literally.
How many times does the Lord need to keep reminding me to STOP, and to wait on HIM? It became so obvious to us when we keep pushing the wheels come off and foolish mistakes happen. We are blessed that in our mania our foolish mistakes, (although costly, stressful, and time consuming), were reversible. It made us reflect on how many lives are ruined by foolish decisions and absent mindedness as a direct result of hectic schedules and pressure, (either self inflicted or from the outside)? How many other families' have allowed the devil to get a foothold in their households, by simply being too busy?
We spent the next day in forced stillness, and it was not easy, but it was necessary. We have been convicted about the pressure and pace our family has been keeping. In the pursuit of productiveness, we push ourselves. Motivation is a fantastic virtue, but if not kept in check, it can swallow up all the places of your life where Jesus wants you to simply be still in HIM. We absolutely must not ever sit back and become complacent but we need to make the time to make sure we are continually consulting Christ.
So we've been taking a lot more family walks in the evenings. We are saying, "no," to play dates for a while and we are playing lots of cards outside. We are sitting down at the table for dinner and not running out of the house to do some MORE. We are allowing the beauty of the land and the spirit of the people of South Africa to inspire us. We are finding more when we do just a tiny bit less. We are finding that the only productiveness that is profitable is the product of the patience, resulting in peace.
"HE says, 'Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth." Ps. 46:10