Slow Down

Growing up as a kid in the 80’s, there was one man who stood for what’s right. One man fought for the little guy and won. One man who got us all to believe we could be whoever we wanted to be regardless of how much money we had or where we grew up. That man’s name was Rocky Balboa! If you grew up when I did, you know I’m right. Rocky’s character arc in his movies is a wild ride. In the first movie, Rocky was a gritty, local debt collector from North Philadelphia. He boxed in local gyms and bars, winning every fight, and started to get a name for himself. By the end of the movie, Rocky found himself fighting the world boxing champion, Apollo Creed. While Rocky didn’t win that fight, he impressed everyone and became the darling of the boxing world. Many people even thought the fight was rigged.

In Rocky 2, Apollo Creed was eaten up with all the publicity that Rocky was getting, even yelling out loud, “I won, but I didn’t beat him.” So he went on the offensive to get a rematch. Rocky finally won, and he was now the world champion of boxing. During all of this, Rocky was focused. He spent his time honing his craft. He was gritty. He was hungry. He was a role model.

Then came Rocky 3. In the third episode of the Rocky anthology, we see a new, more civilized Rocky Balboa. Now he has a mansion, nice cars, and he’s surrounded by people who work for him. But instead of honing his craft now, he’s doing commercials, autograph signings, and having exhibition matches with pro wrestlers like Thunderlips. (Yes, that was the wrestler’s name who was played by Hulk Hogan) He lost who he was, and now he’s spending most of his time distracted from his ultimate goal of remaining the champ. 

This is where Clubber Lang comes in. He’s the number one contender, and he’s a mean man. Lang calls out Balboa at the announcement of his retirement. He calls Rocky a paper champ who’s been dodging him. This ultimately leads to a championship bout where Rocky gets destroyed by Lang. He’d lost his way. He was distracted, and now he’s no longer Champ. He wasted so much time on silly things that he lost his way. It wasn’t until he got back to his roots that he finally was able to face Clubber Lang in a rematch and win back his title. 

How many of us are like this? I’m not talking about the world championship boxing part. I’m talking about distraction when we make our lives too busy. Rocky’s issue was making his life too complex and losing WHO he was in the process. This is a battle so many of us have to fight. We want to get that promotion at work so we work a ton of overtime and neglect our families. We get into bad, sedentary habits like watching too much TV and playing too many video games neglecting our health. This is a tough one to say, but we get so involved with our church that we aren’t focusing on our own children enough, and they slip from their faith. 

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:26

Simplicity isn’t just in living within your means financially or downsizing your possessions. Simplicity also comes with how you spend your time. There are a lot of men and women who have no relationship with their kids because they were so ambitious in their careers when they were younger. Quality time, or anytime at all, was sacrificed to give their children “a better future.” Believe it or not, that’s not what your kids want. One of the greatest songs ever made is “Cats In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin. The final verse of the song is a heartbreaker. 

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I'd like to see you if you don't mind
He said, I'd love to, dad, if I can find the time
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad
It's been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

As parents, we’re discipling our children. They learn how to be adults by our example. How we live is what they will prioritize. If we’re absent, if we don’t call out sin in our own lives, if we don’t make Church and a relationship with God our most important value, our kids will follow suit. If we waste our time on things that just keep us busy and don’t allow for some simple parent/child time, it’s our kids who will suffer. 

From God’s side, as our Father, He’s looking at us and wondering why we’re making our lives so difficult. We say we don’t have time to read the Bible, pray, or go to church, but we’ll pick up all the overtime we can. We’ll make time for our hobbies. We’ll drop everything if we get tickets to the Cat’s game, but reading my bible for 30 min a day? That’s just too much. 

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:14

When we realize we don’t have a lot of time on this earth, we can wake up to the fact that we need to spend our time more wisely. That doesn’t mean doing more stuff. If anything, it means being more available. Living simply as a disciple means leaving room for the Holy Spirit in every aspect of our lives, and that includes our time. Just because there are 24 hours in a day doesn’t mean there needs to be something on the calendar for every hour. We can’t afford to lose WHO we are. When God calls does He get a busy signal, or are we ready to jump at the next opportunity He provides?

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