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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sabbatical Reflections

During the time of my sabbatical, I tried to slow down.  The first step in that process was to realize that I am living life in a hurry.  Most often, we don’t realize that the pace of life is slowly ramping up faster and faster and faster.  Impatience creeps in and along with that, stress.  It is a tough thing to fight off.  Even now, as I am writing this, I am feeling frustrated because my internet connection is so stinkin’…slow!
            The core spiritual practice I engaged in during my time away was to pursue the goal of reading through the whole Bible.  As I read about 18 chapters per day, I gained a new appreciation for the big picture of God’s story.  And one of the things that stuck out to me most was the observation that God is not in a hurry.  Story after story in the Bible reveals God’s patience with the people he loves and cares for. 
God just isn’t very efficient.  He allows people to struggle through their mistakes and suffer their consequences.  He is willing to wait seemingly long periods of time for people to remember things he told them that lead to blessing, yet they consistently reject, ignore or forget.  God will wait patiently for the deep lessons to be learned.
            Let me be honest, patience is not one of my strengths.  I sometimes get focused on “what could be” and just want to hurry up and get there.  A few years back I began to intentionally say to myself as I drove away from my house on vacation - "Vacation is starting NOW."  I had to do that because I was stressed about getting to vacation and forgetting it was that I was in the midst of!  

When I find myself just want to "get there", hurry begins to take control of my life.  And I forget – God is not in a hurry.  He is not in a hurry with me, with my kids, in my marriage, in our church, in other people’s lives.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God’s patience – his slowness as some of us may see it – is an act of grace.  God is not asleep, he has not forgotten, he has not abandoned you and, even though you may not be able to clearly see it, he is being graceful through his patience.
When I slow down, when I am in less of a hurry, when I exercise patience I know that I am much more graceful.  Try it for yourself.  Take your watch off for a day.  Drive in the slow lane.  Choose the longest line at the grocery store.  Take the furthest parking spot from the store.  Say “no” to squeezing that additional appointment into your already overloaded schedule.
As you and I begin to slow down externally, we will find greater peace internally as we rest in the grace of God.  I dare you to try it!

It is good to be back at Cold Springs Church.


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