I am writing this blog here in Mauritius a small island in the Indian Ocean. It is 27°C, humid, and a bit rainy. Jenny is lying on the bed “reading” (she is actually looking at properties here in Mauritius like we could afford it. Come to think of it though. We could afford to buy a property here. Our Father owns all the earth. C’mon) We are here for a short ten day holiday and to also celebrate Jenny’s milestone birthday.
There are some things about island life that are so familiar with the idea of grace and rest.
One of the things we’ve noticed is the relaxed manner in which everyone does their thing. Apparently, it is the same with many island nations. We have just been to two of these. Last year, Jenny and I were gifted with a holiday to Phuket Island in Thailand and the similarities between the two islands couldn’t be starker. The island people are very rested. Nothing is rushed. People are kind to each other. People are helpful. No long traffic jams. Most people are walking or riding on scooters. It is slow- snail slow. Shops open from around 10am. The streets are less crowded in the morning (I usually do my running in the morning). It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. You feel the breeze from the ocean. It’s really amazing.
Mauritius has been ranked the second happiest country in Africa by the World Happiness Report 2016 (http://blog.airmauritius.com/tag/world-happiness-report/)
Could happiness be related to how slow you are are? Literally? Snail slow..
Could the “hassle”as we city folks call it actually reduce our sense of happiness and joy?
Are we in the cities so rushed that we forget to enjoy our lives?
Another thing we’ve noticed is how different people from all over the world come to these islands. We usually boast that cities are cosmopolitan in the sense that people from all over come to work, do business, and live. But the difference is this- In cities we are too busy to notice the cosmos that is all around us. Here at the island, the diversity is in full view. It is a small island therefore it’s hard not to bump into each other.
Isn’t this a picture of heaven perhaps? Won’t heaven be full of people from every nation, tribe, people and language? (Revelation 7:9)
Shades of grace (sounds very familiar like shades of …)
I also think that all these diversity reveals the different shades of grace. Peter talks about the manifold grace of God in 1 Peter 4:16. Grace is many-varied, multi-faceted, many-folds etc. Grace is not a one dimensional, bespoke, and cut to size item that can be manufactured and sold in supermarkets. No ways! Grace manifests itself in many sizes, shapes, and forms. Here at the island, you get to see the many-varied, multi-faceted, many-fold variations of grace.
See, traveling exposes you to all kinds and types of people. When you travel you suddenly realize that you are not that important. Oh really? Yes! Your small world is blown away by the different shades of grace. Many times we think we are the best thing in town because we live and interact with only our own. Our lives are not irrigated by the different shades of grace that are around us. Hey, the world is full of people of all sizes, shapes, and forms and you are not at at the center of it.
Benched by grace
It is the no-hurried bit of island life that gets me. I used to be rushed and hurried. I probably am still hurried to a degree. I was busy pursuing “purpose and destiny” and trying “hard” to fulfill my calling. I was all in man. I was focused. I was deep. I was in it to win it. But when I stumbled on the gospel, the gospel slowed me down. Jesus literally benched me and slowed me down to the tee. It’s been five years since I “did anything for the Lord” and yet these have been the best most productive years of my entire life and yet there has been little or no action. I had to slow down otherwise I would have suffered a nervous breakdown because of my gung ho attitude towards life.
I believe rest and snail slowness is what Jesus is calling us to. Come to me those who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) When Jesus spoke those words, He wasn’t speaking to unbelievers. He was speaking to good religious people that were encumbered with busyness – running up and down trying to do and fulfill the commands of God. In our case, we are trying to fulfill our purpose and destiny, maximizing our potential, applying steps to greatness, developing habits of highly effective people, raising godly kids, developing effective leadership principles, tithing your way to success, pray until something happens, serve and submit until you are released, connect to a spiritual father for your success and the list goes on and on. All these when done outside of grace become task masters that command us to make bricks without straw.
Grace will slow you down. Grace will then give your life meaning. Jesus full of grace takes it even further and bears you on His shoulders. (Luke 15:5) He’s not left you to do it on your own. He’s got you.
Eugene Peterson tweets “busyness is an illness of the spirit.” He also tweets to leaders, “How can I lead people into the quiet place beside still waters if I am in perpetual motion?”
Jenny and I come from the city. We love being in the city. After ten days we will go back to the city. But we also love the island. We love the simplicity. We love the rest. We love the anonymity. We love the peace. We love the breeze. We love the air. We love the hush. We also know that we are loved by Jesus.
That’s what grace looks like