Episode 4 of GOING DEEP AND HIGH
The Pace of Grace
I come across to people as pretty laid back, but I actually have a very intense side to me. I like to get things done! I like my job, I like to work, I like to set goals and then work efficiently towards those goals. And sometimes I push too hard! So, God and my friends have to tell me to slow down.
In 2006 I was involved in helping lead a new church plant. September 15, 2006 I was praying in the morning, asking the Lord for a word of encouragement. Immediately I felt God was saying “you’re trying too hard” and then I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of a foot letting up on the gas pedal of a car. God was saying, “slow down, don’t drive so fast!—let up on the gas!”
This was two days before the first Sunday morning meeting of the new church plant I was helping to lead. God knows that in my eagerness I sometimes put too much pressure on myself and on others; I expect too much progress too quickly and I tend towards impatience. My work ethic sometimes gets the best of me. I just need to chill out, and trust God that I will get things done when they need to be done.
Dallas Willard was an influential teacher in my life. One time, John Ortberg asked Dallas for some advice. John was about to begin a new job as president of a Bible school in addition to being a senior pastor of a large church. Willard’s advice to John was, “as long as you don’t hurry you way through these jobs, you’ll be fine.” (He meant hurrying in an agitated, anxious way). How can you possibly NOT be in a hurry when you have two high-level jobs?
To answer that question, let’s back up a minute and remind ourselves about the big picture. What is our task on earth? We are containers of God, living in union with Christ. We are fully dependent on him. That means we carefully consider which responsibilities we should commit to. If God has given you TWO jobs, he will enable you do them without worrying. Don’t worry; instead, pray. Pray things like this: “God, I believe you led me to take on both of these tasks. And I know that I cannot do it on my own strength. I choose to cease striving. I focus on your adequacy, not my own weakness.”
We need to follow Paul’s example. Boast in your weakness! Celebrate it! That is the turning point to looking to God for help. If we follow that path, we can work from a place of rest. When we forget that CHRIST is empowering us, we slide back into the illusion that we are separate from him. Then we get freaked out when things go wrong, and we act independently of God instead of from that place of peace that is always located right inside us!
Jesus said: 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11 NIV
The analogy of a YOKE that Jesus uses is an image from plowing a field with two oxen side by side. Jesus us saying, YOKE yourself to me – we will pull together.
It seems like a contradiction in terms to say that we can REST while PULLING a plow. How can a burden be light to carry? Here is how the author Norman Grubb answers that question:
“If we are pulling the plow of our life’s problems, relying on our own resources, that is strain, for we haven’t got what it takes to meet that need.” If, in our pressures, we turn inwardly as containers to Him who is “the all” within, and boldly reckon on Him to handle things, then it is rest in the midst of the activities—the habit of recognition.” Norman Grubb
The Message version of this passage says: “I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
This reminds me of the importance of musical band members all staying locked into the same rhythm and tempo. Help me walk at the pace of grace.
Sometimes I feel like God is asking me, “are you forcing the completion of this task too soon?” you need to stay in in the groove of the rhythm!
Richard Foster explains the dynamic of resting while working: “We learn over time and experience how to bring the reality of resting in God into the confusion and busyness of daily life. We learn to work resting. We learn to live on two levels at once. On the one level we carry on the ordinary task of our day. But on a deeper level we live out of inward promptings and whispered words of wisdom.”
How about if you are the mother of small children, which means you have a 24/7 job description? My wife, Linda, is the mother of our 8 children. She home-schooled them for much of their school years. My wife, Linda shared with me her understanding of the story of Mary and Martha – Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha getting anxious about al the work that had to be done. Linda says, “Martha forgot that she was loved. It wasn’t an over-activity problem. I have to be a Martha – I have to get a lot of stuff done. But I can still find Jesus even when I’m busy.” She got help from God to do her task of home schooling 8 kids.
Paul said, “I worked harder than all the other apostles, but it was the grace of God in me doing it.” 1 co 15:10
I take three things from that statement of Paul:
We learn to work resting. That is a skill we learn over years of practicing the presence of God.
And, we learn to recognize when we’ve taken on too much responsibility. We need to adjust our work load or our expectations of what we can get done in a day.
There are two types of time discussed in the Bible. Kairos time describes taking the opportunities afforded by each moment. This involves asking God, “what are you doing now and what should I be doing now?” The concept of Kairos time has its origins in the practice of Greek archery, representing the moment when the archer finds the perfect opening to shoot his arrow and hit his target. That’s a habit we develop through years of practice. I regularly ask God – “what should I be doing now?”
The other type of time is CHRONOS – this is a view of time as a tyrannical slave-driver. We need to resist being slaves of time, but clue into God’s timing. We need to get out from under the tyranny of time. We need to stay in step with his “unforced rhythms of grace.”
God we open ourselves to you now, we thank you for the reality of Kairos time
God, we surrender the throne of our lives to you.
We choose to live under Kairos time. Lord, teach us to do this.
Lord, you said we should make LOVE our highest goal. We say yes to that.
We want to be all about loving you and serving people.
We wait for your directions and your peace.
We say no to worry and frantically rushing through our hours and days.
We repent from independently making decisions outside of our relationship with you.
Thank you, Lord for the safety of staying connected to you.
Help us become experts at recognizing your constant union with us and your ability to take care of every situation.