Gotta have that rush!
Living in Arizona, the only way you know the season has changed is when you step foot in a Starbucks. All of a sudden new selections of coffees and pastries like pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin loafs are tempting you from behind the glass case. They are even trying to take coffee tasting a heightened experience, pairing food and coffee drinks to enhance the drinking experience. Since when has coffee tasting replaced wine tasting? Now really!
As usual, I order one of my favorites (caramel macchiato if you are curious), apprehensive to order something out of the ordinary. Hey, on a youth minister’s salary, who wants to waste $5.00 on a drink you may not even like? Not to mention, I needed the coffee rush, so I stuck with what I know will satisfy.
Let’s face it, when you’re tired in the morning and didn’t get the sleep needed the night before, coffee is a necessity. Basically, I sought an instant rush, a quick fix to get through the day. I paid way too much for a beverage that was gone way too soon and a rush that was over way too fast. Soon after, I’m more tired than I was before the coffee and I either need another rush or I’m dragging the rest of the day.
The same goes for my relationship with God. When I don’t give my Spirit what it needs I seek out the quick rush: the retreat, the conference or the concert. I find myself relying on the message of someone else to provide the inspiration I need to grow in my faith. Once the event is over, I rarely take time to reflect on my life and instead live vicariously on the experiences of others, laughing on cue and crying out of confusion.
We can become addicted to the spiritual rushes ministry provides, never fully recognizing the areas of darkness and emptiness that God is pouring out to fill. We never fully take in the aroma of God’s mercy and love. Like Starbucks, we can fill up on the drinks and pastries and collect the mugs, compilation CDs and merchandise, but never fully appreciate the aroma or taste that the coffee provides.
Now that summer is over and fall is in the air, are we still seeking the familiar taste of summer conferences or are we willing to try a new flavor that could enhance our relationship with God? Here are some helpful ways to experience the fullness of God’s fragrance:
- Balance! Give your body what it truly needs – balance. I used to go to conferences and hear speakers talk about balance and laugh. I thought to myself who has time to exercise? I don’t have a house to cook in at the church so fast food is what I eat? Sleep! When? I’m working 60-hour weeks. Make time for friends and family – the teens come first. This is a bad habit that all youth ministers need to break.
- Daily Mass! The Word of God and the Eucharist are my true wake-up call. The blood of Christ is the chalice I want drink from, not the Starbucks cup. The greatest thing about mass is that every day you get a Free Refill of His Word, mercy and precious body and blood.
- Exercise! Setting up for Life Night does not count as you weekly workout routine. Your body needs more and you will have more energy and youthfulness to serve if you give it what it needs.
- Silence! So often we think all the silence we need is in our commute time to work. The next time you are in the car with the radio off realize the noise still surrounding you. Go somewhere truly silent and be still. It is better than any caffeine rush you can gain from soda or coffee.
- Break the Repetition! Just like the routine order at Starbucks, you need to try something new every once in a while. Read a book in the Bible you don’t even realize is there (seriously, there is a book of Obadiah and it has nothing to do with Star Wars or Obe Wan Kenobi). Go to a local Retreat Center and walk their Stations of the Cross. Take a Sunday off and go to another Church where you have no responsibility. Just try another flavor the Church has to offer and taste something you have never experienced before.
Seasons of the year and seasons of the Church cause us to recognize the fullness of life surrounding us. Take time this autumn to see how God is calling us to change, pruning the tree of life so that all through winter a blanket of white will enliven us to a spring of new life.