“Make haste slowly” has been reverberating in my ears the last three days as I’ve been working on sample table runners for my son’s wedding. Each time I try to start a part of this project, I hear within me to slow down. To not rush. To be relaxed. This is not the way I usually operate. I have been driven all my life by anxiety in a general sense, so that when I do something it is usually with anxiety or pushing to get things done, to accomplish something, to feel like I am being productive. But the Lord is working on the finer, deeper levels of my functioning and so it was this morning. Sit down, slow down. And when you feel relaxed and can maintain that state, then you can start. A deep breath. And another… And finally I can start. But now there is no haste, there is only focus. I put on some soft guitar music while I am working to remind me of this new pace. And that part of the project got done easily.
Haste with anxiety means I am not present to what I am doing. I am not listening for his suggestions as I proceed. I am violating the basic principles of a life centered in God—trust in the outcome, trust in my abilities, trust that God working with me can make it happen.
With relaxation while I am working, I am much more rested at the end. Anxiety is enervating, draining, attacking my best creative energies. Now I find there is still time left over at the end. All the things I might worry about—whether I’ll finish on time, can I create something my new daughter-in-law will like, can I do it well?—all these worries are taken care of.
What burdens taint your work? What pollutes your state of being? Have you ever worked without anxiety?
Be in the right frame of mind. Be present to what you are doing and with whom you are talking. It actually takes less time with this kind of focus; then you can move on to the next task and the next with out the baggage/anxiety of the first one. This is what I am learning. Let God do the worrying, if he ever does. Believe Jesus when he says that his yoke is easy, his burden light.[Matthew 11:30]
It’s the same with people. Set aside all anxieties and other negative emotions. Be relaxed, present, and open to the person before you. Let the Lord lead the conversation. Then follow where he would lead. In this way we reap the most from every interaction. Each encounter will feed both people—you and the other.
Jesus, I think modeled being at peace and present no matter where he was or who he was with so well. Certainly there were times when he was tired of the crowds and withdrew to pray, to reconnect with his Abba. But when he was with people he was present to them. He often asked what they wanted. Even when he doesn’t connect immediately to what the person is asking, he gets there.[Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus with the Canaanite woman]
The last week of his life he entered the temple in Jerusalem and saw the money changers and those selling doves. [Matthew 21:12-13] The story goes that in fury he overturned their tables and benches. He didn’t stay angry or upset because in the next minute he healed the blind and lame who approached him in the temple.[v. 14] He was able to move from one moment to the next, present to what needed to happen each time.
Notice that in the story where Jesus calms the horrific storm [Mark 4:35-41] he is sleeping! After he has rebuked the winds and said “Be still” to the waves, he asked if the disciples had no faith. And that is probably the one consistent thing about Jesus throughout the Gospels, even when approaching his death—his faith in God.
So let the Lord set our agendas. Let him set the timing. Let him direct us as he will. And then we are free to be who we were created to be in any situation. It’s about forgetting our personal motivators and the culture’s way of working and letting ourselves just flow with God’s way of doing things in their own time. Teilard de Chardin, a 20th century French philosopher and priest, writes “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” And I find that when I am not pressured, when I am present, when I am listening to the Lord for the “when” to do things as well as the “what” I am to do, then the work just flows. That’s the opposite of what happens when I am trying to force things in my own sense of timing and nothing is easy or seems to work well.
And don’t do what I used to do which was to separate in my mind those things I thought were religious and those things that were not. A long time ago I used to bargain with God over my agenda and his—if he’d help me with mine then I’d help him with his. And I learned that doing the laundry and housework was as much on his agenda as my devotions and prayer. So I stopped dividing agendas and laid everything before God. Now I know that he cares about everything in my life that I care about and more—every hair on my head as well as yours.[Luke 12:7]
Questions to ponder over the week: Who is in charge of my agenda, God or me? Do I let him lead me? How can I begin to turn over more and more to the pilot of the aircraft that is my life and co-pilot with him? What is the first thing I need to do to start or deepen this process in me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who follow his every lead. May we be deeply and prayerfully attached to his every word to us and less interested in what we want him to do for us. May we be true to our souls and to God in all that we do.
Putting a book up on Amazon is more complicated than I imagined. Hopefully, this week! Watch for the ad and link which will announce it on Facebook. Also, there is a new video up on YouTube, “What Jesus said about the kingdom” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmtO2zw1Yfk. Over the next four months I’ll be posting one video a month on the kingdom as a complement to the book.