It never occurred to me that the busiest season I have ever had in my life would occur as I approach the age of fifty. Years ago, I must have adopted the presumption that I would be able to slow down and ease my way through the back end of life and ministry. I knew I would have a steady pace as a church leader, but my guess is that I assumed back then it would be more of a canoe ride on a still lake rather than the jet-ski on choppy waves that I have been riding for the last thirty months. The bottom line is that the Lord has wired me to get things done and accomplish Kingdom conquests for the glory of Jesus. He made me that way in my natural temperament. My wife and kids have adjusted their expectations and have embraced for themselves the understanding that this is a bit of a non-stop season in which God has placed us. In the midst of all the movement, Holy Spirit has been whispering to me about maintaining a steadfast guard around three areas where I cannot afford to move at a breakneck speed. Those three areas are:
Hasty conclusions – because my first glance is not always accurate
Hasty words – because, like feathers in the wind, you can’t reclaim any of your words after they are spoken
Hasty actions – because sometimes God wills for you to wait a while for Him to say GO
Have you ever noticed how Jesus seemed to meander when He was walking the earth? His life was absent of hurry. His words were always measured, and usually brief. He once said that He only spoke what He was hearing the Father say (John 12:49). In those hours in which He was betrayed, unjustly tried by men, beaten and crucified, there were moments when the One who is the Word said absolutely nothing to those inflicting injustice upon Him. The Word of God went silent. And what about the time when His friend Lazarus was dying, and Jesus did not rush to the rescue? Friends, He allowed Lazarus to die before He went to Bethany to see the grieving family of the one whom He did not heal. Mary and Martha were stunned and bewildered that He He came so late to their city. Of course, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but that does not negate the overwhelming perplexity that found his sisters when they first saw Jesus strolling into their village as if there had been no urgency. When I look at the life of Jesus in the Gospels, I am impacted that the King who could have solved every problem, healed every illness, saved every sinner, and met every physical need in that generation actually seemed to never, ever be in a hurry. He simply walked out His assignment from the Father.
So, Holy Spirit has been whispering to me recently. He is speaking into my heart some probing questions. He is being gentle with me, but He is definitely being intentional as He queries:
Jeff, why does your generation consider it a virtue to be in constant motion, week after week, month after month, as they serve Jesus?
Jeff, because you are living at a fast pace, you have been hasty in your conclusions about some things. You have misread some people in the last year because you formed an opinion of them without listening to Me. You have formed hasty conclusions about other people and missed a wealth of blessing that might have come had you slowed down enough to learn who they really are. You have made a few final assessments before you had received the full set of facts. You are going too fast for meaningful relationships. Why are you doing this in this season?
Jeff, why did you just snap at your son? I know why. It was because you have been hurried all day and failed to slow down to rejoice in the value of Landon in that moment when you walked in your front door after a packed workday. You are moving too fast, Jeff. Home is supposed to be the place of relational ease.
Jeff, you just said NO to that request without even talking to the Father about it. Your actions were hasty. You missed a blessing because you did not consider how that request could be crammed into your bloated calendar.
Jeff, I love you deeply, but how long do you intend to go on like this? You should make some lasting decisions about the pace you are living and begin now to stem the tide.
I’m not trying to be creative in writing all this out, and I am sorry for my personal processing on a public blog of all that He is speaking to me recently concerning this issue. These are the whispers of Holy Spirit to my heart. My conviction is that some of you might be hearing the same kind of whisper from Him right now. I know how this works too. If we ignore His whispers, He will raise the volume. If we continue to ignore Him, He will begin to move in our circumstances to enforce upon us the stillness we refused to choose for ourselves. He must convince us repeatedly that being busy is not the same as being blessed. He wants to reinforce to us that we are nowhere as essential in Kingdom ministry as we (or others) might think we are. God loves His children so much. Yet, that love motivates Him to call us to slow down, get quiet, listen twice before we speak once. He is not pleased when we engage in non-stop movement for His glory. Frenetic motion in Kingdom ministry tends to seep into all other areas of our lives. Simply, we live too quickly, and there is no glory for Him in our constant motion. There might be fabricated glory for us from others when we churn out endless hours of ministry. But there isn’t any glory for Him…and that is the worst possible scenario for any of our lives. Busy without His blessing. Grinding without His glory.
So, today I am inviting some of us to intentionally slow down. I am going to get still for a few hours after I post this blog. I am going to listen to His response when I ask Him how much of what I am engaged in is from Him. My guess is that I will be making some decisions and trimming some of the fat off my calendar. Yes, I am going to get a liposuction procedure done on my schedule. It has been overweighted for too long.
Maybe you should too.
Maybe, if we really want to emulate the Son of God, we should take off our running shoes and slip on some flip-flops and just stroll a little more often.
That sounds like Jesus to me.