Father Owens is the Rector of The Church of The Cross in Bluffton, South Carolina. He is a well-respected minister who has served our Lord for many years. And he has a fine family that I have known for quite a while.
Earlier in his life, he was the Headmaster at Thomas Sumter Academy, which is where I went to school. I was there from the fourth grade through my senior year. I observed him from a distance and I had numerous one-on-one conversations with him during my T.S.A. days.
Let me tell you about something Father Owens taught me...
In my junior year (1987-'88), I was considering graduating early so I could skip my senior year and go off to college early. In my mind, it was time to go ahead and move on to the next chapter of life. And I was really excited about it.
Father Owens heard about this. So one day he got me out of chemistry class and drove me to Cathy's Kitchen, which was a great diner behind Shaw Air Force Base. I was nervous and did not know how that conversation would go. We sat down in a booth and he looked at me. Then he said calmly, "Richardson, I hear you are thinking about graduating early." I told him that I was indeed considering it and I told him why. He listened patiently, heard me out, and then did something I will remember until the day I die. Father Owens reached inside his coat pocket, pulled out a pen, and began writing on his paper place mat. Then he turned the place mat around where I could read what he had written. There I saw these three words: "Why the rush?".
I sat there in silence for a moment.
To be honest, I don't remember many specifics of how the conversation went after that. But basically Father Owens was encouraging me to slow up, go through my senior year, and then head off to college. He did not think my plan of graduating early was the best thing for me to do.
At first, I did not agree with him. I was convinced it was time for me to go. But eventually I came to realize he was right. I did need to stay at Thomas Sumter another year and experience more of high school. And I'm glad I did stay. My senior year was a great one for me.
"Why the rush?"
Father Owens was challenging me to think about timing. Although he was supportive of my ultimate goals, he understood some things that I did not. He knew I needed to grow up and mature some. He knew it would be to my advantage to have a senior year of high school. And he knew I was not ready yet to launch out into the world. As I look back on it, I am so thankful for his wisdom. Father Owens was right.
We can have big dreams and noble goals in life. But if our timing is wrong, we can make a real mess of things. That's why it's always best to slow up and do things on God's schedule rather than get in too much of a rush and launch out too early.
God sees things we don't see and knows things we don't know. And God knows when we're truly ready to take the next step in life's journey. The best thing we can do is trust His timetable and move forward when He calls us to do so.
Maybe you're considering a major step in your life right now. It might excite you and make a lot of sense in your mind. Before you take whatever step it is that you're considering, just stop for a moment and ask yourself this question: "Why the rush?" Pray and seek the Lord's timing before you make your move. And if you find God telling you to slow up and wait a little, do what He says. God has His reasons. Trust Him and give it time. In the long run, you'll be more than glad you did.
As I look back on that experience, I'm glad I waited. It was the right thing for me to do. And maybe, just maybe, you should slow up some too.
Thanks, Father Owens, for your wisdom. You were right. And I will always be grateful to you for it.