SLOW DOWN, GOD'S NOT IN A HURRY

A common complaint that non-Western cultures voice about Americans is that, if they want to make plans with us, they have to schedule everything two weeks in advance. With pressing work schedules, short vacations, a plethora of extracurricular activities, and the overriding sense of urgency, our lives leave no room for the lingering moment. We value the short, quick, and expedient. Sound-bytes dominate the airwaves, offering less and less while stealing more and more time, and the world moves at a dizzying pace. Thomas L. Friedman\’92s latest book, Thank You for Being Late, describes this hustle: \’93We are living at one of the greatest inflection points in history . . . . The three largest forces on the planet\’97technology, globalization, and climate change\’97are all accelerating at once\’94 (3). While most people are \’93overwhelmed by it all,\’94 Friedman argues, \’93in such a time, opting to pause and reflect, rather than panic or withdraw, is a necessity\’94 (4). If he\’92s right, the only way to survive the pace is to buck the trend and . . . pause.
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Christ\’92s followers ought to lead the way in slowing down; Jesus never lived in a hurry, never let the expedient dictate, and never neglected the important for the urgent. Even when urgent news reached His ears (as in John 11, when He heard about Lazarus\’92s illness), He waited on the Father\’92s timing, rather than respond even to His friend\’92s need. He often took time to be by Himself, and it may be that the incredible power of His ministry bubbled up from the depths of intimacy enjoyed in solitary time with His Father. If Jesus, who had the most important ministry in all of history, saw pausing and reflecting as essential, how much more should His followers adopt His example?
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As the new year approaches, the pace of life will not slow down; we as Christ-followers must deliberately interrupt its flow, slowing down, pausing, and taking time to listen to God. One practical way to put the brakes on is to open God\’92s Word on a daily basis, and this works most fruitfully with a plan. The plan should involve a specific time, a specific place, and a guide to read the Word of God in an orderly fashion. I use the One-Year Chronological Bible, which breaks down Bible reading into daily portions that allow me to digest the Word and keep the flow of the story.
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Having a simple set of questions to aid in reading and understanding the day\’92s Bible passage also aids greatly in comprehension and growth. Factual questions, such as \’93Who are the main people in this story?\’94, \’93What did he do next?\’94, and \’93What happened next?\’94 aid in keeping track of story flow. Inferential questions, like \’93What does this teach me about God, people, sin, forgiveness?\’94, etc., open the text to deeper understanding of themes that run through the whole Bible. Connection and review questions (\’93Where have I seen something like this happen before?\’94) tie multiple stories together and reveal patterns in people\’92s and God\’92s behavior. Application questions help to give us a way to respond to what God is revealing to us each day, and aid in our communication with God as we respond to Him in prayer.
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Learning to wait upon God daily (Proverbs 8:34) has helped me to develop the discipline of listening to God and to keep on growing in grace. Pausing and waiting on God has produced reflection and renewal to survive and even thrive in the pace of these days. How will you build the habit of listening to God and reflecting on Him as life accelerates around you?