It’s fascinating that so many Christian writers and theologians over the last couple of decades have reflected on and written about the need to slow down the pace of life in order to catch up with God. Book titles such as ‘Soul Keeping’ (Ortberg), ‘Slow Church’ (Smith & Pattison) and ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ (Comer) are all symptomatic of a yearning to slow down, catch our breath and catch something of the wind of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual sails.
Pete Greig’s recent 21-day, 300-mile pilgrimage from Iona to Lindisfarne for Lectio365 reflects on the same subject. He writes: – ‘Isn’t it extraordinary that Jesus never hurried? With just three years to save the world, He still made time for fishing trips, picnics, and parties, which means that He was officially less busy than most pastors. ‘Let me make one observation,’ writes Kosuke Koyama in his book Three Mile an Hour God, ‘[God] walks “slowly” because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed… It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.’’ (Lectio365, 22/06/23)
We all need to harness the self-discipline of slowing down in order to catch up with God. Many of us know that discipline as the ‘quiet time’ during which we read our Bibles and pray – yet all too often even these ‘slow’ times are rushed! However, it occurs to me that this discipline is a potential strength of our own church community. To the relatively high proportion of retired individuals amongst us, whose pace of life has been forcibly slowed down by the passing of time, I would say:- You are an invaluable resource to the church, because your pace of life is much more closely in step with God’s than that of those who are still working, parenting or enjoying the full vigour of youth. Your prayers, your wisdom and your insights are often the very things that the rest of us need in order to hear from God. So, far from becoming less useful with age, we are all given the opportunity to walk in step with God like never before.
And the result? If you’ll forgive mixing the metaphors of walking and running… ‘[God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ (Isaiah 40:29-31)
With our love and prayers
Matthew and Pauline