“We should take as our aim to live our lives entirely without hurry. The peace and joy and strength which God intended for human life, the well-being and health of mind and body, is inconsistent with living in a hurry.” — Dallas Willard
After I left my counseling job in 2018, I found myself in a several-year period of waiting. Waiting for whatever was next, waiting to re-visit the Philippines and the ministry I love, waiting to find the perfect job, waiting for the pandemic to be over, waiting to feel purposeful and whole again after burnout.
During my season of waiting, I rediscovered parts of myself that I had forgotten — like the part of me that loves to write. While I was waiting for “the thing” to arrive that would make a long season of heartbreak make sense, I learned to bake bread. I grew house plants and watched them thrive. I learned origami and led my first collaborative art project at church as we folded our written prayers into tapestries of hundreds of birds and butterflies.
But it wasn’t all baking and butterflies. It was hard. In the beginning, I wept almost daily. I wandered around Marshalls for hours, looking for God knows what. I felt worthless and purposeless and directionless most of the time, especially when I wasn’t engaged in a clear, meaningful project. I wondered if God had kind of forgotten why he made me and if he was taking some time to figure that out, too, before answering my prayers. I felt a little embarrassed for both of us.
Recently I attended a Fellowship of the Burning Heart retreat in California. I felt deeply connected to God, others, and the beautiful world around me. I experienced alignment between my heart, body, mind, and spirit — something I long for in my day-to-day life.
I shared this with my spiritual director, who after thoughtfully listening responded: “Maybe this is it, Katie. Maybe this is the way God has been inviting you to live all along. Maybe you’re done waiting.”
As she spoke, I felt something tight in my chest begin to release. Could it be true?
What if the whole time I thought I was learning to wait, I was actually learning to live—slowly, intentionally, creatively — at the pace God created me to live?
I wonder if instead of me waiting for God’s divine pre-packaged life plan to arrive on my doorstep, God was actually waiting for me to learn that life with Him is simultaneously much simpler and much richer than I could have imagined. Maybe God was inviting me to catch up to his pace — which means slowing down.
After all, how fast did Jesus move while he lived among us?
He moved at the speed of walking.
Jesus only moved and acted at the intentional pace of the Spirit and the pleasure of the Father — which is to say, Jesus moved at the speed of Triune relationship. After the Pharisees accuse Jesus of breaking the Sabbath by healing a paralyzed man, Jesus tells them he was simply acting in utter dependence upon his Father.
Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.…
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
John 5:19, 30, NIV
When Jesus walked upon the earth, he saw people. Jesus noticed the hurting, the broken, and the outcast as he walked from place to place, and his unhurried pace meant he had time to stop and talk with them. To love them. To heal them. Two thousand years later, Jesus’ pace hasn’t changed. But ours has. We’ve become a society that prioritizes productivity over relationship, materialism over simplicity, and hurry over intentionality. Jesus waited upon the Spirit to determine his every move.
As we try to pattern our lives after Jesus in our hectic culture, can we say the same? When was the last time we admitted: “By myself I can do nothing”?
In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, author John Mark Comer writes, “To walk with Jesus is to walk with a slow, unhurried pace. Hurry is the death of prayer and only impedes and spoils our work. It never advances it.”
Even though much has changed since Jesus walked the earth, Jesus’ gentle invitation to slow down remains:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
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. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28 – 30, MSG
In order to learn to walk with Jesus, we first have to un-learn the frantic pace we’ve embraced as a Western society.
As I have learned over the past few years, embracing a “walking” lifestyle can feel excruciating. It can feel like you’re going absolutely nowhere. It can often seem more like “waiting to live” than “living to wait upon the Spirit.”
But today, I can see so clearly what I couldn’t see for years in my long season of waiting: slowing down with Jesus, learning to walk as he walks and see as he sees, is the only way to truly live as we were meant to live. As I learn to take Jesus at his word and dance to the unforced rhythms of grace, I am discovering what it means to live freely and lightly.
Am I ridiculously happy and peaceful all the time?
No. But the invitation of Jesus to live freely and lightly serves as a lighthouse in the storm — an anchor point for me to return to over and over, each time my pace feels more like whiplash than living.
Is it possible to live slowly 100% of the time in a society that seems hell-bent on fast-paced living?
Probably not. We live far from Eden, and sometimes our lives just get busy. There is nothing wrong with a full life, though when we equate fullness with busyness we tend to run into trouble. I wonder how many of the things we believe we have to get done in a certain time frame are more dictated by a recklessly rushed society than the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, what if the life we’ve been waiting for has been here the whole time, buried underneath the smothering weight of demanding expectations, of who we think we should be to appear successful, tangled up in false visions of the good life?
Are we willing to find out what Jesus means when he says, “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life”?