Billy McDonald was a big, burly man in his forties. A successful hardware store owner, he was also a workaholic. He never took a vacation, was seldom home, and worked twelve hour days six days a week.
Sunday’s were no exception, only taking time off for church and family dinner. Then it was back to the store readying things for a new week. People liked him, though, because he was a fair businessman who stuck to his word, but his family missed his attention.
Billy usually walked briskly to work since his Florida hometown was small and easily traversed by foot. It was his only real aerobic exercise.
On his way to work one morning, he thought about his upcoming inventory and how he could move merchandise faster. While he saw a beautiful sunrise and the sounds and smells of spring, he was oblivious to them. He really didn’t know how to smell the roses.
Entering the store, he was suddenly seized with pain and couldn’t catch his breath. Sitting down for a moment, the pain subsided and he quickly forgot it, returning to his usual self. It didn’t return all day.
That night at dinner, however, the pain returned with greatly increased intensity. Feeling flush, seeing double and with a pounding headache, he couldn’t hide it from his wife, Martha, and his twins, Billy, Jr. and Susan, who were high school seniors.
A frightened Martha jumped up saying, “Billy, We’re going to the hospital. This one time I’m in charge.”
For the first time in years, Billy meekly agreed. He was frightened and couldn’t catch his breath.
Martha and Billy spent over six hours at the hospital undergoing exhaustive diagnostic tests. Several hours later, a handsome young doctor approached with a serious demeanor. He told them that the results showed significant hypertension which caused a panic attack. If not addressed, the repercussions could be serious, possibly a heart attack or stroke.
Billy was skeptical, but Martha asserted herself, asking, “So what do you recommend, Doctor? What can I do to make Mr. Stubborn here better?”
The doctor simply said, “Make him rest and relax, Ma’am. Go on vacation; it’ll be good for both of you.”
Driving home they talked candidly. Martha told him she loved him but things were going to change. He was going to take care of himself, spend quality time with his family, and enjoy God’s gift of beautiful life and that was an order.
To her surprise, Billy didn’t argue. He even agreed that her words and those of the doctor were true.
As they entered their home in the quiet early morning hours, he said, “Ok, Martha. I’ll take some time off. Give me two days to get things in order and we can go on a cruise? How’d that be?”
Martha hugged him tight and smiled with relief, “That’s a wonderful idea. Aunt Hilda will gladly come to help Susan run the house. Billy, Jr. can keep an eye on the store after school. Your staff loves him.”
It was settled, a nice relaxing cruise was the ticket.
Two weeks later they embarked from Tampa for the Western Caribbean. For the first time in years Billy felt relaxed and he saw Martha differently. She was beautiful and charming and he realized she deserved better from him.
As the ship left the harbor, Billy also noticed nature around him. The salt air, deep blue sea, warm sunshine and acrobatics of the following sea gulls and dolphins were invigorating.
That night while Martha was fast asleep, he decided to star gaze from the main deck. The stars were twinkling at him and he imagined touching the visible quarter of the moon above.
At the rail was a distinguished looking man who nodded and smiled as Billy approached. He decided to stop and chat. Billy learned he was retired, content and seventy-eight. He couldn’t believe this man could be older than his late fifties.
How do you do it? How do you look so young?” Billy asked.
“Actually, it’s quite easy,” he man replied. “Follow God’s guidance, work hard and then rest. They are all important and lead to long life.”
Just like God said as Moses fretted about finding the Promised Land: “I will personally go with you, Moses. I will give you rest-everything will be fine for you.” Exodus 33:14 (NLT)
Like Billy, will we accept God’s help to find rest in a hectic world? He’s waiting.
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