This evening as I stretch on the reclining patio lounge, there are hummingbirds keeping me company. The sun is setting, and it’s peaceful. Mostly. The occasional car drives by in this small town. Dogs bark, people chat as they walk and bike past. The giant sunflowers in my garden are opening now. Even in the coolness of the twilight, they don’t close up like some flowers do. My mind is far from peace.
I hear the gentle whir of another hummingbird approaching. I glance up to the feeder, and I see. One is already there. The other in movement approaches. They are such funny creatures. Wingspeed faster than my eyesight and constantly in hurried motion. They seem anxious to me. Or perhaps on a sugar high. I don’t see how they survive off sugar and water. They hardly sit to eat.
As I watch them, I wait for the first one to fly off with the approach of the second. They never share. Not that I’ve seen anyway. But this first one just sits content. I do a double take. That’s a strange sight. They never sit still. But this one did. Sat and sat. Drank a little, sat awhile, looked around, drank some more, sat some more. He looked happy. Not hurried. The second one came and went, and still that content little guy stayed.
At the risk of losing you here, I want to offer a visual. Check out this video from the time 1:35 to 1:53. The hummingbird just sits, enjoying, content.
So he got me thinking… how similar to our culture today. Americans are always hurried. That’s what’s expected. Just as I expected the hummingbird to whir away at any second. If we’re not busy, we must be lazy. That’s the expectation.
“How’s your summer?”
“Oh, it’s been good. So busy. I just haven’t stopped.”
We say it proudly, like an accomplishment. We’re supposed to be busy.
A busy life means we’re making good use of our time. Should the desired goal be busyness?
He’s back now, the content hummer. I notice he flies slower than the rest. They all fly around crazy. I wonder how they don’t run into trees. Maybe sometimes they do. But he’s not darting here and dashing there. He takes time to look where he is going. Time to sit, pause, rest, enjoy, be.
What if I took a lesson from one of God’s countless incredible creatures? What if I received what He offered to me here in this moment on the patio? What if my goal was not to be busy? What if my goal was to be content?
I’ve been learning rest for over 18 months now. The truth is, with the health issues I battle, I’m often forced to rest my body when I don’t want to. Part of what I experience is extreme fatigue. It’s nothing like being tired. It’s to the point where I physically and mentally cannot accomplish things I would like to check off the lists, both my to-do list and my bucket list. It’s not a matter of pressing on. It’s a matter of pressing in, leaning into God because I have no strength left.
He’s back again, my new little friend. This time he lands on the clothesline. I like him. He comes to the feeder, to drink the life-nourishing nectar.
Honestly, I’m sick of rest. I want to be busy. I want to do more. Some days I am blessed with energy and can accomplish almost all I’d like to. Days like today are not that way. I fight a battle against fatigue. Which is ironic and exhausting. I am not content. I want to be. It’s everything against the culture whirring around me, saying I should be busy to be worth living. Or maybe that’s the lie of my enemy. Maybe it’s both.
Content to rest. That’s where I wish I was. Where I want to be. I’m encouraged that Paul writes,
So at one point he wasn’t. He learned it. So it’s possible to learn. I can keep learning contentment.
content = to contain, as in a vessel, capacity for holding, satisfied with whatever, ease of mind and heart, willing.
In French the word basically means the same thing, but it seems to carry a weight of being truly pleased in your heart. They use the word more frequently than Americans, so as a result I use it more when I speak French. Je suis contente. I am content. How funny that I say it in French to communicate my joy, but rarely in English to express my satisfaction.
To enjoy and be satisfied. That’s what I saw in the hummingbird tonight. It was rare in the species. The first time I’ve seen such a thing. It’s rare in our humanity, too, that stillness in our hurried world. It is written,
So the more I am still, the more I know God. I am going to rename this season of long-suffering. What if this time to rest, these health problems, are gifts from the Almighty? Maybe His desire in this time is for me to be more still, that I might know Him more. It’s a stretch. It sounds good. But living it out in my hard days? That’s the challenge.
I feel confined in many ways currently. Yet what if the truth is I am really free? Free to not be busy, but free to be. That’s the gift of rest. I chose to receive, to open, that present tonight from the Creator. Via the hummingbird.
And then I looked up, past the trees. He loves me.
(click on the above quote for the whole “Love Song” by Jason Morant)
Father God, grow us in contentment. I pray for each person who reads this. Would you bless them with time to be busy for You and time to just be with You? Thank you for how you love us. Thank you for how you speak to us. I pray for peace in each of our hearts today, no matter the chaos whirring around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.