Rite of passage: Doing or being?
I just returned from vacation. My wife and I spent a wonderful week in Akumal, Mexico, a lazy little town about half an hour south of Playa De Carmen. A few years had passed since we took time away like this, and I was excited about having seven days of rest with no responsibilities.
But that kind of freedom brought a problem, because I don’t make a good rester. Our first morning there, I awoke to the sun shining, the birds singing and the tantalizing aromas of bacon and eggs wafting through the air. I jumped out of bed, took a dip in the pool and enjoyed a lazy breakfast with my wife.
What a way to start a vacation: sleep in, wake up, swim and eat. But then, I looked at the clock, which read 10 till nine. Our morning was speeding by—until I discovered the clock was wrong. The correct time was only 7:50. So much for sleeping in!
I took another swim and got dressed. Next, we drove to another little town about 12 miles away to exchange money, fill up the car and do some shopping. We bought our gas and took time to stroll the streets. We looked in all the little shops, visited with people and decided it must be close to lunchtime. But when we looked at our watches, it was only 10 o’clock. So we walked around the little town again and enjoyed an early lunch. We headed back to the house, went swimming in the ocean, laid out to get some sun and before we knew it, our day was over.
It was only three o’clock in the afternoon.
My wife and I laughed, thinking, “This is going to be the longest vacation of our lives!” We’d already done so many things and it wasn’t even dinnertime yet. We hadn’t even spent one full day on vacation!
Right then, I made a decision. If I was going to survive our week of vacation, I needed to quit “doing.” I grabbed a book and sat down to read. The next thing I knew, I had fallen asleep. I dozed the rest of that day and most of the next—exactly what my wife had known I needed all along.
When I quit “doing” vacation and started “being,” I started to enjoy the things around me. I noticed the brilliant tropical flowers that surrounded our rental home. And every day, our personal iguana showed up to sunbathe next to our pool. My wife named him Ed Earl. We decided that instead of giving us a watch dog, God had supplied us with a watch iguana. We looked forward to getting up each morning and seeing little Ed Earl.
A few days into our vacation, I began to relax and enjoy life again. When it was time to go home, I felt sad. I knew as soon as got back to the office I would start “doing” all over again.
Many people face their lives the same way I do and get all caught up in doing. Our world becomes a long list of doing this and doing that. When we finish doing this pile, we find another pile waiting for us to do. It affects us as families, too. Many times we end up doing instead of just being a family.
Can your family just spend time together without having to do something? Jesus never called us to do for the sake of doing. The doing He loves arises out of our being—our identity as new creations in Him.
Have you noticed? The Bible is full of doers. The Sadducees and Pharisees always kept track of what people did or didn’t do. Jesus had a new message for them: “Quit doing. Start being.” But they didn’t want to hear it. He was trying to tell them true life comes from being born again. And He was letting them in on a deep secret: He is the One who does the doing in us. All we have to do is . . . be.
Yes, the Bible instructs us to be “doers of the Word” (James 1:22 KJV). But “Just do it” was never the life He intended us to have. Jesus never said, “You must do born again.” Instead, He said, “You must BE born again” (John 3:7).
This applies to all of God’s creation. I can walk like a dog and bark like a dog, but I will never be a dog. And when we concentrate on doing, we miss out on the essence of what God intended us to . . . be.
I tried to explain all this to Ed Earl, but I guess he was too much into being an iguana to understand.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, email walker@awestar/org. Phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.