THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES

In the last few weeks I have been involved in an intentional “Pause That Refreshes.”
If you are as old as I am, you may remember an old slogan used by Coca-Cola.
They called Coke “the pause that refreshes”
Well, that is what I have been doing – pausing
And, that is not as easy as one may think because we live in a very busy world and have a large number of daily demands and obligations that need to be taken care of
iPhone, Facetime, Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, Messenger, iMessage, Emails
So, pushing the pause button on life is never an easy thing to accomplish and must be something we intentionally do once every while
In my life I have been taking time to let my ‘thinking catch up to my feelings’
That is the short season I am in currently as I adjust my life and grow into the challenges and changes that I will soon be facing
And sort through the changes and experiences and circumstances of the last three or four months
In these intentional pauses we settle things on the inside
For me it like I have all these things twilling around inside slapping me hard in the heart and mind as they go by and so the ‘pause that refreshes’ is a time to reflect, think, feel, sort, and assimilate (file things into my memory bank) so that they stop flapping in the breeze
Here is what I was taught many decades ago
Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”  Peter Drucker
There are many different ways of growing and an infinite number of lessons to be learned in life
But to really learn ‘life lessons’ and thus grow  – a person must intentionally pause to allow the Holy Spirit to bring things together so that we gain wisdom from our experiences
And, not just have experiences for the sake of experiences
Bishop Bompas … Anglican bishop in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, while travelling from the east to Athabasca to establish the Church was moving with his First Nations guides and helpers at a terrific pace day after day after day
From early morning to long after sunset every day.
One day he woke up and was ready to move out and the helpers refused to go…
When Bishop Bompas asked why, they replied, “We need to pause and let our souls catch up with us”
The “pause that refreshes”
There are many ways to grow and mature as people and as believers
But there are some kinds of growth that come to us ONLY if we are willing to stop, pause, and allow the lessons to catch up with us
Let’s talk about these intentional “pauses that refresh”
Here are my observations concerning the power of the pause and how taking time to reflect can help you to grow…
1> Reflection turns experience into insight
For over 2,000 years, people have been saying that ‘experience is the best teacher’
According to one expert, the earliest recorded version of this saying came from Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who wrote, “Experience is the teacher of all things.”
I disagree with that statement
Experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is!
The only reason Caesar was able to make that claim was because he had learned much by reflecting on his life and writing about it … He had spent time evaluating his experiences in life
Let’s admit it, people have innumerable experiences every day, and many learn nothing from them
Because they never take the time to pause and reflect on those experiences
That is why it is so important to intentionally pause and let your understanding catch up with you
Personally, I am intentionally taking time to “let my thinking catch up with my feelings” so that I can gain fresh, new insights into myself, my relationships, my ministry (work) … and changes that I need to be making
2> Everyone needs a time and a place to pause
I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t benefit from pausing and reflecting
Stopping to reflect is one of the most valuable activities people can do to learn, to grow to mature, and to make positive changes in their life
Stopping to reflect is much more valuable than even motivation or encouragement
Pausing allows you to make sure that you are on the right track
If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation or encouragement to speed up
He needs to stop, reflect, and change course getting back on the right track
I believe we need to identify or even create a ‘thinking place”
A place where you can get away from busy life and “pause to reflect” and be refreshed
If you create such a place and schedule time to use it – you are more likely to actually push the pause button and use it
Life Markers – Life Makers
Most people are fairly busy – even retired people often find themselves being busier than when they worked full-time
We rush from place to place, from event to event …trying to accomplish things
Along the way we have certain experiences that are life markers
You go to a place, are part of an event, meet a person, experience a major relational change that marks you for life – changes you because something important happened
These life markers identify for you a time of transition, change, or transformation
But, if we don’t take the time to “pause and reflect”, we can miss the significance of the event
“The Pause That Refreshes” allows those experiences to move from being life markers to life makers
If we pause to allow growth to catch up with us
If we stop for a bit to let our souls catch up with us
If we take time to let our thinking catch up with our feelings
We better understand what has really happened
We see what God is trying to teach us
We understand the significance of what has happened
We implement changes and course corrections in our journey
And thus we have ‘life makers’ and we experience life and experience it in abundance because we took time out, paused, and reflected
Life Markers (major experiences) can become Life Makers if….
3> Pauses with intention expands and enriches thinking
As I read biographies and autobiographies of people who have had an impact on the world
Political – – business – – cultural – – spiritual world
Virtually in every case, they spent a considerable amount of time alone thinking and reflecting
Solitude – exploring their feelings and thoughts
Solitude – exploring their ideas and experiences
Time alone allows you to sort through your experiences, put them into perspective, and plan for the next steps in life that you need to take
I encourage you to find a place to think and to disciple yourself to pause and use it
It has the potential to change your life
It will help you to sort out what is really important and what isn’t
4> When you take time to pause, use your I’s…
When you take time to pause and reflect – to let your thinking catch up with your feelings – there are really three basic directions your thinking can go…
A> Investigation
There’s a corny old joke about two guys who have been given the job of cleaning out the stable
They are up to their ankles in horse manure, and one says to the other, “There must be a horse around here somewhere.”
Yes. There must be a horse…
Some things are obvious and don’t require a pause to reflect and figure things out
Others require a person to play detective and investigate
The great scientist Galileo said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them. That takes investigation.”
Pausing means more than just slowing down to smell the roses
It means stopping and really figuring them out
That means asking questions .. .we will look at them in a few minutes
The thing to remember is that continual growth from experiences is only possible when we discover insights and truths within them
That takes investigation
B> Incubation
Incubation is taking an experience of life and putting it into the slow cooker of your mind to simmer for a while
It is very similar to meditation
When you meditate, you listen to God’s Word and listen for His voice
When you incubate, you are listening to your feelings and your thoughts
Listening and learning and thus changing
Sometimes experiences and feelings remain in the slow cooker for a length of time before you reach the next step
C> Illumination
I spend time each day – usually late in the evening – playing back the events for the day
What did I accomplish?
How am I feeling?
Did I do my best?
Who did I speak with?
Who did I connect to?
Did I possibly wound anyone during the day by my words or actions?
Is there some follow-up required?
What did I learn about myself?
What do I need to change?
I am settling things down, thinking them through, sorting and filing – assimilating them into my “life experience” file folder … a small, daily pause that refreshes
This is what  “illumination” is all about –
But remember, some events and “life markers” need to sit and soak for a longer time … the intentional “pause that refreshes” … before they become “life makers” in time
So more than a one night thought flashing through your mind or a quick feeling remembered in your emotions
These longer “pause that refreshes” lead to “aha” moments in your life
Those epiphanies when you experience deep realization or insight
It is when the proverbial lightbulb turns on
Few things are more rewarding than such moments
I find that I experience moments of illumination only after I spend time investigating an idea and then allowing it to incubate for a period of time
And, it is always worth taking the time to pause and reflect because then the lights turn on
Good questions are the heart of reflection
When you take “the pause that refreshes” you need to ask yourself questions
Whenever I am thinking and reflecting and I feel like I have hit a roadblock, it is time to ask myself questions
If I am spotting an insight into myself and can’t quite grab hold of it, I ask myself questions
If I am seeing something that needs to change in my life, I ask myself questions
I spend a lot of time  in my life asking myself questions and that is a good thing
If you want too experience regular and steady personal growth – I cannot overemphasize the importance of asking good questions during your times of pausing and reflecting
Only you can know which question to ask
The question to ask must be tailored to the situation
The question to ask will be unique to your personality
The question to ask will be connected to where you are at currently
The key to asking good questions is to have a great grasp on who you are > self-awareness
To be personally aware of your strengths and weaknesses
To know yourself well so that your “pause that refreshes” becomes valuable and useful
So, let’s end this teaching with a series of questions I have asked and answered that helped me to develop personal self-awareness …
1> What is my biggest asset?
In my life, the learned ability to take one day at a time and not worry or be anxious
Jesus said, “Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”  (Matthew 6:34 – The Passion Translation)
KJV “Sufficient are the evil of today for today”
Maybe for you it is your “attitude” towards life…
2> What is my biggest liability?
In my life, I believe in people too much and that leads me to expect too much from them that then leads to disappointment and frustration
I see the potential and focus on that … and am often (usually) disappointed
Maybe for you it is that you don’t believe in yourself
Maybe you have unrealistic expectations of others or even of yourself
Maybe you are passive and lethargic
3> What is my highest high?
In my life, I get the greatest kick seeing people reach for their potential and fulfilling the prophetic words spoken over them
Romans 4:17 “… calling things that are not as if they were”
Maybe in your life it is leading someone to Christ
Maybe it is finally defeating a bad habit or truly forgiving someone
4> What is my lowest low?
In my life, it is watching family members making mistakes and knowing I could have helped them avoid the mistake IF they had only asked
Maybe in your life it is your family members not walking with Jesus
Maybe it is when you disappoint yourself doing or not doing something when you know better
5> What is my most worthwhile emotion?
In my life, it is commitment. You would know it as love.
We live at our best when we love what we do, love our friends and family, even love our enemies … and, of course, love God with our whole heart
Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart…”
In your life maybe your most worthwhile emotion is satisfaction from a job well done
Maybe it is feeling understood by those who are closet to you
6> What is my least-worthwhile emotion?
In my life, the least attractive emotion is feeling sorry for myself (self-pity)
Happens when I am really tired and can’t have the food being served
Happens when I am tired and feeling used and abused in a ministry situation
In your life it might be being misunderstood
7> What is my best habit?
In my life, it is the habit of reading books and the Bible daily regardless and recording what I am learning in an electronic journal
Maybe in your life it is eating correcting and exercising daily
8> What is my worst habit?
In my life, it is impatience with people who know better and still do stupid and even harmful things to themselves and to relationships … Repeating the same thing over and over again hoping for different results
Maybe in your life it is being the center of your own universe with no room for others in your heart
9> What is most fulfilling to me?
In my life, the thing I enjoy doing most is teaching and leading people who are really hungry and willing to pay the price to grow
Mentoring people who are called of God to accomplish big things for theKingdom – and who know it and are actively pursing it
Maybe in your life…
10> What do I prize most highly?
In my life I value nothing as highly as I do my faith – it forms my values, guides my actions, it is foundational too my teaching ministry, it is my source and my security
Having faith and knowing its value in my life helps me to have a divine perspective every day otherwise I easily get off course
Maybe in your life…
These ten questions are ones I actually ask myself to prompt myself to reflect and to help me to grow in the area of self-awareness.
They help me to pause, focus, and learn about who I am and what changes are happening or should be happening
They help me in my ‘becoming” the person God created me to be
Conclusion:
All of this probably sounds like a lot of steps and a lot of trouble as well as a lot of work
You are right, it is
That is why most people never do it
But it is worth every bit of effort you put into it
The farther you go in life, the more critical it is that you take the time to pause and reflect
The older you are, the less time you have to stay on purpose and do the things you were created to do
But the good news is: If you have been diligent in your efforts to grow along the way, you will be better equipped to fulfill that purpose, even if it requires you to make significant changes or course corrections
Never forget that your goal is personal self-awareness and personal growth to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for your life
The purpose is to reach your God-given potential
To do that, you need to keep pausing, keep asking questions, and keep growing every day
Extra material:
You can ask questions of yourself in any area that you are examining and wanting to change…
For example, if you want to grow in the area of relationships, you could ask the following questions …
Do I value people?
Do people know I value them?
How do I show it?
Am I a ‘plus’ or a ‘minus’ in my most important relationships?
What evidence do I have to confirm my opinion?
What is the love language of the people I love?
How can I serve them?
Do I need to forgive someone in my life who needs to be given grace?
Who in my life should I take the time to thank?
Who in my life should be receiving more of my time?
Or if you want to pause and think about where you are in the area of personal growth, you could ask yourself the following:
Do I know what areas of my personal life that I need to focus on and grow in?
Which one should I work on first?
Is there someone who can help me to grow in this area? (friend, author, family)
Am I growing daily?
What am I doing daily to grow?
How am I growing?
What are the roadblocks that are keeping me from growing?
What are the breakthroughs I need to keep growing?
What were the potential learning moments I experienced today, and did I seize them?
Am I passing on to someone what I am learning?
What you want to accomplish in this stage of your life… And, where you are in your journey
Will determine what areas you most need to pause and think about today, asking the questions that need to be asked
And, you should write down both the questions and the answers! Why?
Because you will discover that what you think after you write the answer is different from what you thought before you wrote it
Writing helps you to discover what you truly know, think, and believe and record it for future reference