Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life Too Busy? Race You to the Rock!

Some weeks I think I'm the world expert on busy. I've got a PhD in too much to do, too little time, too much crazy. This is one of those weeks. Interviews are due, promo materials for Shades of Morning (going to be talking about regret vs. the transforming power of God -- way neato stuff!), four (count 'em, four) proposals for new novels, something like three articles to do, a mini-play, contest entries to judge, email to answer, and kids to take care of. Not to mention the other 90% of the items on the ever-increasing to-do list (I simply have to get THAT monster under control!!).

And in the midst of it all, there's my youngest - who turned 17 months old on Monday - with his arms raised to me saying "Ma ma ma ma." And truly, I can't resist. After all, he is the cutest thing ever. So, I stop, pick him up, and we dance a bit to the "Hee bloo bloo" song his sisters made up. We both laugh. Then, the phone rings, the laundry buzzer goes off, and my email makes that little sound saying there yet more of it in my box.

But baby boy gives me a head-butt anyway (which is his way of showing affection - like a hug, except in boy-language), and I'm reminded that life is more than to-do lists and deadlines. Life is not something to be accomplished. It is both God’s gift to us and ours to Him. So today, as I think about busyness and life, I’m remembering back to when I was a kid. I’m remembering the story of the rock. It goes like this:

“Race you to the rock!” my friend Lisa cried as she sprinted down the trail toward the stream at the lower end of our property.

I laughed and followed, my seven-year-old legs pumping like twin pistons over the dirt path before me. In minutes we reached the rock, a massive, gray boulder that stood like a giant castle over the stream’s edge.

Panting and giggling, we flung ourselves across the lichen-covered surface. I pressed my cheek into a rough spot on the rock and grinned. “You win.”

Lisa climbed to the top of the boulder and looked south. “Mr. Winters is picking persimmons today.”

I scrambled up next to her. “Hey, the Johnson’s cow finally had that calf.” I pointed toward a field to the west.

Then, Lisa and I settled back and gazed into the blue, afternoon sky. Later, we would play princesses-in-the-castle, pretend we were riding an elephant across the plains of Africa, or dangle our feet in the water and dream of what it would be like to be mermaids in the ocean. We could do anything, be anything, on the rock.

To the rest of the world, our rock may have seemed like an ordinary boulder, but to us, that stone was the center of the universe. From there, we could see the world. All things were possible. We were safe. We were free to dream. We were prone to laugh. From there, we tasted a bit of heaven.

Today, when I think about the image of God as the Rock (as in Psalm 18, 78, and 95), I often think of that boulder by the stream. I realize that when I am centered in Him, everything becomes clear – I can see my world. When I rest on Him, I need not be afraid. I can dangle my feet in the rough currents of life and not be swept away. I can dare to dream, hope, play. When He is the center of my life - the one I look to for security, the one I race to when I want to see the world around me as it really is, life can have the fullness God always intended, without the craziness that is not of Him.

But I remember something else about my special boulder. Something that even now makes me sad. For as I grew older, I visited the boulder less and less. Lisa and I raced to the mall instead of the rock. We jabbered on the phone instead of sharing dreams by the water. We did our homework, made our plans, and no longer had time to play. I forgot the feeling of warm stone on my back, of swishing my toes in the cold current.

The boulder was still there, still as majestic, still as strong. But I ignored it. I was too busy, too grown up, too involved with my own goals and plans. Spring came. The stream ran fast and cold, but I didn’t stop to dip my toes in the water. Summer followed, but I didn’t lie on the warm stone and contemplate the heavens. Autumn brought leaves of orange and gold, but no games of knights or safaris. In winter, the leaves dried and blew away, but I didn’t even notice that somehow, somewhere, I had lost something precious.

So this week, as my life is crowded with appointments, projects, deadlines, responsibilities, and piles of laundry that seem to never grow smaller, I’m remembering the boulder. And I can almost hear God whispering, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. . . Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." (Isaiah 44:8, NIV). It’s as if He’s saying to me, “Come and play, come and rest in me. Come and dance to the Hee-bloo-bloo song.” He’s calling me back to the center, back to the Rock of my salvation.

Then, I can remember the joy, the freedom, that can only be found on the Rock. I pray for God to be the center from which I live the rest of my life - my work, my family life, my hopes, dreams, and, yes, even my play. I pray that I can laugh and cry out, “Race you to the Rock!”


Anonymous said...

Wonderful !!!! I love that story.
It brought a few tears to my eyes, a few ran down my cheeks.

Thank you for sharing.