S l o w i n g
Last night, at My Girls, we finished the last chapter of the Good and Beautiful God, which focused on slowing down to spend time with God. So much of the pace of this culture is one of going and going. Where I live, in the California Bay Area, this trait is especially prevalent.
One of the problems is being blind to these forces propelling one to live life at a fast pace. It is harder to discern the frenetic activity when you are right in the middle of it.
The author, James Bryan Smith, describes the problem of speed to “hurry sickness.” We are propelled to do more, produce more, squeeze more activities in, in a short amount of time. Smith quotes economist and writer Jeremy Rifkin:
We are a nation in love with speed. We drive fast, eat fast, make love fast. We are obsessed with breaking records and shortening time spans. We digest our life, condense our experiences, and compress our thoughts. We are a culture surrounded by memos and commercials. While other cultures might believe haste makes waste, we are convinced that speed reflects alertness, power, and success. Americans are always in a hurry (174).
Rushing from one thing to another — often doing more than one thing at time — can distract us from the present. What are we missing, right in front of us, if we are constantly a flurry of activity, always moving, always looking to the next thing?
I am guilty of this life, this pace, this addiction to productivity (whatever I have decided that looks like at the time). Even since starting this blog last winter, I am tempted to make my hanging out with God — a time when I intentionally try to slow — be mainly my writing. Again, I am tempted to produce something, even when listening to His voice.
I appreciate the desire He’s given me to process His words in me through writing them down. But I need to surrender what my life with the Father is supposed to look like, according to Him. It might be writing; but it is probably, also, a lot of soaking. Our lives can be full and busy, but unless there is margin, space in my life so I can heed the Spirit living in me, I am not present with God.
I am missing out on Life.
I treasure Ann Voskamp’s offering of intentionally choosing to see the Father, no matter what life’s circumstances, through the act of writing down His blessings. In her book One Thousand Gifts, she shares her journey of choosing presence with God. Through the seeking of Him, the specific listing of how she sees Him, she can’t help but slow. She can’t help but not hurry, and thus, be ushered into His presence. Naming His gifts, His heart giving her eyes to see, is her partnering with Him in the act of slowness. When we slow we are gathered up in His arms and allowed to see His face.
Slowing means making choices that allow margin in one’s life so we can heed the Spirit’s direction. There are good things for us to do, to experience, soak up and be present for. A life of hurry robs us of margin to allow these moments to occur.
I love George McDonald’s sermon on life, which John Eldredge quotes, in his powerful talk, “The Spirit of the Age”:
Let us in all the troubles of life remember — that our one lack is life — that what we need is more life — more of the life-making presence in us making us more, and more largely, alive. When most oppressed, when most weary of life, as our unbelief would phrase it, let us bethink ourselves that it is in truth the inroad and presence of death we are weary of. When most inclined to sleep, let us rouse ourselves to live. Of all things let us avoid the false refuge of a weary collapse, a hopeless yielding to things as they are. It is the life in us that is discontented; we need more of what is discontented, not more of the cause of its discontent. Discontent, I repeat, is the life in us that has not enough of itself, is not enough to itself, so calls for more.
There are choices we can make to pursue this life that the Father has given us, rather than succumb to the culture that drives to kill the relationship we have with Him. There is a rhythm that Jesus walked with, as one with His Father.
I want to discover this rhythm in my own life. I don’t want to miss this life He offers.
I want to SEE.
Want to join me in this journey of surrendering the harried, hurried pace, in order to adopt the rhythm of the Spirit?
What is your life filled with that is causing hurry?
Where can you add margin to receive Him more?
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