After landing in Cyprus we were collected and taken straight to our hotel in Aiya Napa. We finally arrived about 1am, grabbed a cheeky McDonalds then hit the sack.
The next day myself, my mate Neil and the groom’s brother, Rich, went out to grab some breakfast. We enjoyed a full English sat in the sunshine, then went for stroll to find the sea, which didn’t take long. We walked the coastline until we found a little beach-side drinks shack and there we decided to stop. The boys enjoyed a cold beer, whereas I opted for a fruit smoothie (see picture above).
And as we sat there in the beautiful sunshine, looking out over the mediterranean sea, enjoying good food and drink with some chilled beats playing in the background something struck me with profound force…
I was relaxed!
Literally, I didn’t have anything to do! Nowhere that I needed to be. Nothing to stress my head out. I was…relaxed.
We must have sat there for several hours, chatting about all sorts – work, football, faith…the conversation was totally natural, unhurried and…relaxed.
Eventually we rose from our table and ambled the 20 metres or so onto the beach and into the warm sea for a paddle. Lovely!
That evening we went for a meal at Japanese restaurant (best meal experience I have ever had!) We then went down to a Mexican bar and enjoyed watching Wales beat Cyprus 2-1 in the European Qualifiers.
Went to bed happy and contented and…relaxed!
The following morning I woke up early. The wedding party wasn’t due to leave until 3:30pm so I had plenty of time to kill…I mean chill!
I took my Bible for a walk down to a local cafe, linked up to the wifi and sat down with hot, strong coffee. I spent the next hour and a half sat in the sunshine savouring the taste of good coffee, praying, reading Scripture…and actually having time to meditate on what I was reading. I even had time to memorise some. Suffice to say I was enjoying the presence of God in a very precious way.
I then ordered another coffee and repeated the exercise.
It was so slow and peaceful and…relaxing!
(For probably the first time I started to understand why my dad spends almost half of every year on the Greek islands!)
“Very nice” you might say, but why the dickens is this something that needs to be blogged about?
Well here’s where I’m going with this – in those precious moments of rest, reflection and sweet relaxation, I was profoundly challenged!
I was challenged because it made me question the pace of my life that starts each day with an early rise, followed by walking the dog during which time I might manage 5 minutes of prayer, then I come home make a coffee and try to find 5 minutes to read my Bible in the midst of the chaos and carnage of 4 kids letting loose before breakfast during which time we struggle to get all 4 of them to eat up in time to get them out of the door and down to school on time so that they don’t get late marks and then I head off to whatever meeting or pastoral appointment I have lined up that day…and yes…it is as exhausting and distracting and intense as that paragraph without any full-stops makes it sound!
Now hear me right, I know that the pace of my Cyprus mornings was a blessed window of grace to me, and it would be impossible (or at least unloving to my wife) to try to replicate such mornings in the madness of a typical morning at the Hankey madhouse.
But I can’t lie, it also exposed the craziness of the pace of my everyday life and made me keen to address it. I know that a lazy morning in a coffee shop in the sun-soaked mediterranean is a world away from the insanity of crazy morning with 4 nutty rug-rats in the rain-drenched Welsh valleys.
But something has got to change!
I want…no I need to heed the scripture:
Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46 v 10
I want…no I need to imitate my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who got through so much ministry in an average day that He simply had to get off to a good start:
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Mark 1 v 35-39
Jesus is the most fruitful missionary who ever lived. He was always on the move, constantly reaching His hand out to the needy and preaching His heart out to the lost. Yet we never see Him in a rush, flapping around in a mad panic or even remotely freaking out!
He may not have had 4 kids and a school run to navigate like I do, but He did have crowds stalking His every move and, at times He didn’t even have a place to lay His head! Yet He prioritised time with His Father in prayer and was a ninja with the Scriptures.
So here’s where I’ve landed. I haven’t cracked this – not even close. In truth I’m already feeling the squeeze now that I’m back home, BUT I’m not going to settle for it! I’m not going to let the madness of the daily grind deprive me of the blessed prize of walking with Jesus.
I’m going to fight for time and space with the Lord.
I’m going to strive for daily sabbath.
I’m grabbing the wheel and setting a new pace…
…a pace that creates space to enjoy grace!