Recently while playing basketball with a group of students and staff I experienced an injury. In the midst of certainly one of the most beautiful lay ups of that day, I found myself crashing down on my ankle. As if my life slowed down for that brief moment I could see all the horrible tearing and twisting that was happening to my ankle, yet, I was helpless to avoid the painful injury. In a moment I went from running (and I say that generously) up and down the court, to hobbling off the court.

In that moment a couple of things occurred, I experienced the love of brothers in Christ who had sincere concern for my well being reach for ice and ace bandages. It was moment of encouragement in real physical pain. The second was that I was forced to slow down, I could no longer move at the pace of life which I had been used to for so long. In other words, the Lord used this injury to bring about rest in my life. Now I fully admit that I did not see it that way in the moment of the injury, nor do I always wake up with that mentality. Regardless of my willingness to accept this slower pace of life, it is what I have been given.

This is where the idea of odd and unexpected gifts became a reality in my life. I have long been a “Go Man,” working to keep a dozen tasks balanced at break neck speed. Like the plate spinner at the carnival, precariously balancing and attempting to maintain the spin on a dozen plates. When my ankle crumpled under the weight of my body, the plates came tumbling down as well. Being forced to slow down the pace of my life, I am more able to see new mercies every morning. When you’re racing down the highway at 100mph everything out of the side windows is a blur. When you are driving 15mph, all of a sudden you see the glories of His beautiful creation. God knew I needed a moment of rest, to slow down and see Him in all things. This ankle injury came in a moment when I was on the verge of burnout, and now through His grace I am being reminded and renewed through being forced to slow down. What an amazing gift that came at the right moment for me.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

Like the sheep in Psalm 23 I was made to lay down in green pastures. The good shepherd showed His care for me by providing for a need I didn’t even know I had. For you students as we enter the midpoint of the semester, let me ask, “Are you slowing down enough to see His gifts, His mercies? Are you slowing down enough to experience his rest?” Take a moment to recognize these odd and unexpected gifts the Lord gives.

– Justin Archuletta, Chaplain and Director of Christian Ministry Training