By Tethe Fernandez
Eight PM sharp.
Bells ringing a melody announce the beginning of one of the attractions at the top of the Astronomical Clock at the Old Town in Prague. Hundreds have gathered around this marvelous feat of engineering to watch the twelve statues of the Apostles appear in the doorway above the clock. Bartholomew ends the parade at the same time that the melody stops. The final act of this beautiful 45-second show is a golden rooster, indicating that a new hour has started. (It's cute enough to provoke joyful clapping from the crowd!)
Prague takes great pride in this beautiful masterpiece - and for good reason.
This 600 year-old piece of machinery indicates with precision time, station, sun and lunar calendar, and other holidays - all with impressive accuracy. Mathematicians, astronomers and clock makers together created not only a reliable tool but also a beautiful piece of art. At every corner of this impressive machinery, from the top of the tower to the bottom, beautiful figurines and details charged with meaning adorn the monument, inviting everyone in town to pause.
This practice of taking a pause from the fast pace to stand still and enjoy what is happening in the moment is not always easy to embrace. After all, we do life daily in a culture driven by high productivity. However, I am here now, at the bottom of the clock. Sitting on the ground, still smiling at the recent sound of the rooster, and making an un-planned pause. Don’t get me wrong... I am so grateful and blessed to be able to appreciate the beauty of the clock and Prague, but my calendar said I was supposed to be somewhere else right now, being productive. Four days ago, I had bags packed to depart from Prague to Lviv, Ukraine, but received an email from the Ukraine Consulate informing me that they had denied my Visa on technicalities. I could try again, but for now my travel plans were canceled.
It took me a couple of hours to figure out if I was more frustrated or sad.
For our ministry, every trip is about so much more than making a video. It is also a priceless opportunity to connect with the hearts of those in the mission field and to use our cameras to bridge the gap between them and every passionate believer who loves Jesus but has no real way of knowing what God is doing in the nations through those who serve on the front line.
But due a "technicality" I had no control over, we were forced to make a full stop - taking Ukraine off our itinerary, and spending an extra week in Prague while waiting for the right time to travel to the next destination.
I confess that I spent the first 4 days in front of my computer, trying to get as much work done as possible. To take “advantage” of the pause and be productive.
But now, sitting at the foot of this 600 year-old masterpiece of art and engineering, I realized that, once more, I almost missed the opportunity to just stand still and pause, rather than serve at the alter of "productivity." It was God who had cleared my schedule and given me extra days in one of my favorite cities in the world. Driven by guilt and a "works" mentality, I had packed every minute of those extra days with things to do...until now. Now, seeing all the Apostles and hearing the rooster reminded me that pausing and yielding is just as important as being productive.
Simon on the rooftop. Moses in front of the burning bush. Jesus and his hide aways from multitudes.
So...allow me to share with you the piece of bread that I’ve just been given: it is ok to pause.
This high achiever's heart needs to remember that more often. I also need to keep in mind that achievements birthed out of pain, frustration or guilt may provide an immediate give a sense of accomplishment, but they are stealing from the priceless gifts of rest, peace, and beauty that are found in the pause. Today I joined the tourists and the locals who stood still to pause and enjoy. I looked up, admiring the followers of Jesus who remind us to keep pressing in and pressing on, and the joy of the rooster's song. Jesus knows. He knows when the rooster will sing, He knows when the visa won’t be given, and the doors won’t be opened. And He is still there, locking eyes with us, believing in us and knowing that after that glorious breakfast at the beach we will keep moving.
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