Take a Breath
I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)
A few weeks ago, Barb Loomis (SPRC Chair) and I attended the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in Green Bay. I drove my car, gave her a ride, and stayed in a hotel room with her. It was a good experience to share not only space, but also culture. It was a great cross-cultural experience for both of us. I learned many wise stories from her. I want to share one of them with you.
We were late a little when I drove for a dinner meeting with Barb. The dinner meeting was with the Korean Caucus group. I brought Barb to the dinner meeting because she wanted to meet the Korean Caucus group, recalling her visit to Korea in 2019, which she enjoyed. We had busy schedules at the Conference following the dinner. So, we were in a hurry to follow and make all the programs. We had to stop several times for red traffic lights, which was frustrating. Barb must have read my mind, and knew I would hurry to get there. So she shared a wise story. “You know, the strange thing is that whenever we hurry, the red light stops us more than when we are fine with going slow. Do you know why?” she asked. I said, “I hear you.” and I smiled because I could guess what she was going to say. She continued, “Just think of it simply. It is time to take a breath when you are at the red light,” As soon as I heard her, I laughed because we were stopped at every traffic light. However, I drove joyfully, saying, “Ok, it is time to take a breath.”
Laughing with her, I thought of our lives. Our lives are also similar; we sometimes face red lights in our life journey when we have to transition, such as looking for a job, applying to a school, ending a relationship, losing loved ones, and more. We sometimes face a double red light, which means one right after another one. And then, we despair, looking at others. We see other people going along on what seems like a straight path, always getting green lights on their life journey. We then get depressed and disappointed, not only for the world, but also for ourselves, facing hard times with no patience, but with anger.
I learned that many biblical people also had many red lights in their life journeys. The prophet Elijah had a despairing time serving God and Gods people because Queen Jezebel persecuted him, and no one was with him in the wilderness (1 King 19). However, he realized God gave him time to rest before fulfilling a great mission. Moses also had several red lights in his life. One of them was that he became a refugee in the wilderness. He tried to do good for his people, but no one understood his righteousness. Finally, he left his place and lived in the wilderness until God called him (Exodus 3).
The Letter of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time to rest and work hard. If you face a dead end, it might be time to take a breath. Take your time going, as you cannot go through the red traffic light. It might be a time to rest and wait for God’s guidance. If you hurry and ignore the red light, who knows, you may miss God’s guidance. Please rest when you feel you’re at a dead end, like taking a breath at a red traffic light.
Remember, the Apostle Paul’s confession, “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13). Like his confession, we may learn to be in all circumstances, so we can do everything in him who gives us strength. Enjoy in summer, expecting a good harvest in the fall!