Three years ago, in the woods of western Virginia, I heard a man say, “Life moves at the speed of relationships.” I immediately resonated with that. My life has traveled mainly at the speed of achievement. Get that book done, that podcast produced, or that trip scheduled. Of course, I made time for relationships around that, but I moved at a breakneck speed throughout most of my life. Though I’ve been comfortable with it, I know not everyone around me has.
A few weeks ago, as I happened to be pulling some weeds in Sara’s garden, I hurriedly reached for a weed that was just a tad out of reach. I didn’t realize that, however, until I lost my balance in the reach and had to move my foot to keep from falling. When I did, I stepped on one of her flowers and crushed it. Internally, I felt like I had crushed something in Sara’s heart. No, I didn’t mean to, and indeed, Sara wouldn’t have compared that flower to her heart, but that’s what I felt when I looked down at the dying iris.
“You need to slow down.” The words crossed my mind instantly. The message was clear to me. My rapid pace is crushing something in Sara. Since then, “Life moves at the speed of Sara” has become part of my vocabulary. And it applies to everything I do, from driving to preparing dinner to my conversations with her and others. At first, it felt painful. I even do it when Sara isn’t with me because I want to practice for when she is.
And you know what I’ve discovered? I actually like living at a slower pace. I trip on stairs less often, make fewer mistakes, and am more attuned to what’s happening around me or someone else might be feeling near me. Dare I say it? It’s made me more sensitive to God’s ebb and flow in my life. Who would have thought?
Last week on the podcast, Kyle and I discussed how we can run so fast through life that we don’t allow Jesus to catch up with us. I’ve long thought people who keep busy all the time are running from something inside, afraid some pain or loneliness might catch up with them. I know I did some of that in my younger days.
Then last week, as I prayed with some people, this subject came up again. Someone expressed it this way, “Maybe we could live at the speed of Father.”
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Jesus did. He only did the things he saw the Father doing or said the things He heard the Father saying. (John 5:19)
That thought has wandered to many places in my thinking. I’ve had so many people tell me they don’t ever hear or see God, and I’ve been through seasons of that myself. But could that be because we tend to move ahead of Him, racing through life? We beg Him to do what we want instead of slowing our pace to recognize what He’s already doing? To see someone, you must be behind them, moving at their pace. Maybe the next time someone tells me they can’t see God, I might remind them that they might slow down and let him get ahead of them. You can’t follow from the front. Maybe that’s what it means to wait on God; it’s allowing Him to catch up to us and move in front so we can see Him and embrace His work.
I’m going to be exploring this for some time. Is that why we’re told to wait upon the Lord? It’s not an exercise in patience but a reality. Our human tendency is to race about in fear and anxiety, which puts us way ahead of God’s pace. That’s why He seems so slow to us or so hidden. He’s not on that frequency. His work is much more deliberate, incubated in love, not fear, in trust, not anxiety. He’s also doing real work inside while we try to plater cosmetic fixes on the outside.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this will change me.
Remember the poem I ran on this blog a couple of weeks ago, Allowing My Past Catch up to Me? Maybe it’s not just the traumas of our pasts that we’re outrunning; perhaps it’s also the love of God, or maybe the treasure of His wisdom. If we don’t slow down to the Father’s pace, we will keep missing the incredible roads He wants to invite us down. Is that why He speaks in a whisper and sows His fingerprints so subtly into our days. Slowing down enough to recognize Him is part of learning to navigate our lives at His pace instead of the frantic anxiety of our flesh.
That’s why we’re told to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10, or to find those “unforced rhythms of grace.” (Luke 11, The Message) Slow down; take a deep breath now and then and learn to quiet the pace of your mind and heart. Then, it won’t be so difficult to know what He is doing in you.
That’s where I’m growing right now, and I already love its fruit growing in my heart.