After my dad left our family when I was 11 years old, but before I came to know my heavenly Father about 5 years later at age 16, the Father was good enough to provide several godly men in my life that had a tremendously positive impact on my young and hurting heart. One of those men I refer to this day as ‘Uncle Del’. Together with his wife ‘Aunt Betsy’, they opened their house and lives to me and my family, and later to Barb when we were dating teenagers. Their oldest son, about my age, and I were then and remain to this day good friends.
One of the ways they included me and our family was to invite us to their lake house each summer, only about a 75 minute drive from our homes. A few families in that circle of friends had bought homes that were side by side on the lake, so that when everyone was there at the same time and you counted all the families and kids we numbered I would guess close to 40 people.
Uncle Del had a large ‘deck boat’, which is to say a boat with a regular fiberglass hull, but the whole top was one flat deck surrounded by a railing and within was enough room to hold maybe 15 or 20 people. After a day filled with boating and water sports and children of all ages running around with this need and that, by evening the adults were in desperate need of time away from the thundering herd of children.
About an hour before sunset Uncle Del would call out loud enough for all to hear, ‘Momma ride!’, which was the signal for adults to begin gathering, and we teenagers and almost teens would soon be left in charge of the younger children while all the adults gathered on the boat for a slow cruise around the lake for about an hour (refreshing beverage in hand) – an hour of peace and quiet all to themselves – before they had to return to get the young ones washed up and to bed. Of course as teenagers we outwardly moaned about the nightly hour-long ritual of watching our younger siblings, but inwardly we were thinking ‘an hour without any adult supervision!!!!’ – yippee!
Momma rides were a mystery to us. Why did they need momma rides? What did they accomplish? What exactly did they talk about for an hour?
Ants and the holiness of taking time off
By outward appearance to my teenage mind, and I think Barb’s at the time as well, momma rides served no purpose. But by the time we were married and had 3 young boys and were pastors of a rural Colorado church, the reasons for the momma rides of our teen years became abundantly clear.
Either Barb would look at me and say “I need a momma ride” or I would see it in her face and mercifully call out “Momma ride!” to the boys – which in land-locked Colorado meant get into the car and drive out into the open prairie or up into the mountains, either way momma needed to get out of the house. There would always be an adventure awaiting us – a lizard to catch, a prairie dog colony to watch, antelope grazing nearby, a flock of wild turkeys perhaps. And always physical activity in the form of walking, climbing hills and down into valleys, looking at wagon wheel ruts still in the prairie from pioneers 100 years earlier, ancient art pictures on rock walls, and so on. Sometimes when Barb just needed to be alone, she would announce ‘momma ride’ and take her bicycle for a couple hours riding along country roads through the prairie.
The mental and physical change of focus did wonders for our attitude and physical energy. Our evening car rides into the unknown were actually part of a scriptural example that started at the creation, when God decided He was finished after 6 days, and on the 7th rested from Project Earth. It wasn’t that He was tired, the Hebrew indicating that He simply quit. Rest meaning to cease from doing something. Even then He was setting an example for us, for Jesus would later observe:
“The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
We aren’t to serve a day, but the day serves us. A day of rest was made for us, and the wisdom and value of taking time to rest took me years before I understood it. Our natural tendency is to produce something, and taking time off seems counter to that. But I like the example of Zechariah 4:1-6 in which 2 olive trees are seen, which produce oil to flow into a large bowl, and the large bowl spills its oil into a lamp which burns with God’s flame. “Not by might, nor by power says the Lord, but by My Spirit.”
The lesson is first to stay connected to the source of the olive oil – the oil being a type of the Holy Spirit, and the next is that our spirit is the bowl, which can only fuel the lamp and burn brightly for the Lord IF it is overflowing with oil into the lamp (our soul). In other words, we are to give people the overflow, but what is in the bowl is for us. Just give them the overflow, never what is in the bowl. That is for yourself. We’ve all been there – that place you’re running on fumes, on empty, and must recharge. That is what taking a sabbath rest is all about – refilling the bowl to overflow status.
One day I read a study about ants that changed my life. Most Christians recall Solomon saying in his Proverbs to ‘observe the ant’ and all his hard work. (Proverbs 6:6)
But this study revealed ants divide their day into 3 parts. One third of the day they work hard, the second third of the day they do light work around the nest, and the last third they rest. Hmmm….Momma Rides. using 1/3 of the day to rest, 1/3 to do light work, 1/3 to do heavy work. Hmmm…balance.
My point about momma rides is simply this
Make time for your own version of a momma ride – some time to recharge, rest, recharge – yes, be like the ant. On a daily basis divide your days into thirds to strike a balance. When Paul was in Ephesus (Acts 19) and we are told he taught daily in the school of a man named Tyrannus, we know from history and culture the people of Ephesus worked hard from sunup to around 11am. Then they took a break until 4pm (16.00) – it was no doubt in the 11am-4pm time frame that Paul taught. After 4pm they would return to work for a couple hours to finish up the day. That looks like dividing into thirds to me. Morning is hard work, take a break, return for light work. Done.
Find what works for you and don’t judge one another – but judge yourself as to whether you are doing your body any good. Find your momma ride, and take it.
New event in our lives next week…until then, blessings,