There are things in life that cannot be hurried, no matter how quickly you want them to be resolved.
The skill for spinning down the rush to make quick judgments and find instant results seems to be a vanishing virtue. But in the Bible, slowing down and waiting for God’s leading can be found as a key feature in many stories of transformation – especially in how Jesus engaged the Disciples and people who came to him for healing and restoration.
During devotions early this week, I noticed a note I made to myself several years ago. I remember how difficult it was to be patient and trust God in the waiting. And I remember how it turned out well because I waited, rather than push the envelope to make something happen more quickly.
Waiting is a key part of the great transformational moments in life. It’s part of everything from farming, to pregnancy, to friendship, and transitions in life. Each has its own season and process. Apples will not ripen any faster, no matter how hard you wish for the fruit to be ready to pick.
Trying to make the process speed up never ends of well – whether it’s trying to get children to grow up faster or reconciling a broken friendship.
I learned a great deal in the process of awaiting that new call. It turned out to be just what was needed on many levels. It came a year after a member of the family passed away. Despite the grief and pain, the experience provided me with a new appreciation for trusting God with the outcome and the timing. It also gave me a deeper ability for spinning things down to a slower pace to truly be with everyone in my family who were also grieving along with me in anticipation of the end of life for someone we loved dearly. These became the gifts that a year later helped me to wait with more patience and more hope for the call that eventually came.
We live in a society that doesn’t seem to possess the virtue of patience, especially when it comes to solving the problems that are dividing us. Everything around us urges us to rush forward.
A farmer was lamenting with me recently the temptation of using genetically mutated seeds and feeds (GMOs) for his crops and livestock, because they make things grow much faster and promise a greater profit. Meanwhile, more and more research is revealing that these GMOs are a major source of cancer and obesity. It has forced my farmer friend to go to extra efforts to find the seed and feed that are not tainted by GMOs. He takes a great risk to do it the right way and with honesty.
In the news reported daily, much of the stories are reported in a way that result in large parts of the community being stirred up or spun up to demand action and results for matters that cannot be properly solved without careful, painstaking reflection and research. The skill of slowing things down and patiently weighing out the best course of action seems to be in a higher demand than ever.
Did you know that history is filled with fascinating stories of transformations that took place as a result of small communities gathering together to simply sit in silence and pray for God’s leading?
My favorite is that of a renewal that spread across the Moravian Church in the 1727 as a result of children gathering every day for three months to pray in silence for the adults in the community who had become divided in conflict.
The “Iron Curtain” that divided Eastern Europe from Western Europe that fell in 1988-89 was the result of a campaign of people from all walks of life gathering every Wednesday in churches across Eastern Europe to prayer silently for God to bring peace. And when the Berlin Wall fell, it did so without a single shot being fired. And just think, they gathered weekly for more than a year before results began to emerge.
As we make our way deeper into the “Dog Days of Summer,” it is the perfect time to slow down and unspin ourselves from whirlwind of issues and fears stressing our world. It is time to intentionally become more focused in prayerful waiting upon God in silence to provide what is truly needed.
Use the Gospel of Mark as a guide and note how many times Jesus stepped away to a quiet place to connect with God for direction. Being alone with God was the fuel that energized all that Jesus was able to do. It focused his compass to be able to pay close attention to the needs of the people who were most vulnerable and broken. As he took time to address the problems of the least, the last, and the forgotten, the solutions for everything else unfolded.
Dr. Neil Routh is pastor at Grace Moravian Church.