Slow Is Good

A few months ago, a realization caught me off guard, only because my day slowed down enough for me to see it.

I was reading and taking notes. My work felt worthwhile and busy. A few hours in, feeling tired, I stretched my back and looked up. In that pause, seeing my tiny apartment cleaned and orderly, I remembered when I vacuumed and did laundry earlier that week. It’s work that feels tedious and that God had been teaching me to view as an offering. A way to love my household well and honour him. I realized how the Lord of the universe makes Himself just as present in the mundane, as in the extraordinary. All moments are lived in his presence. We may not feel it, but He sees us and hears us, always.

It’s not the sort of thought I would have had in the past, simply because I would have powered through the reading and studying as quickly as I could to move to the next thing. Same with laundry or cleaning. Furthermore, I would not have viewed folding laundry or cleaning as something to do for the Lord.

Slow is good. It creates a pause, which allows for quiet, unseen moments to be seen by us, and remember they are seen by God too.

Slowing down enough to stay still and hold a quiet pause is hard. It doesn’t come naturally, at least not to me.  I think we often feel we can’t afford it. After all, time is always running somewhere, and we are usually behind it. There is something rushed about our rhythm.

In this season of redefining worthy and successful in light of God’s Word rather than my own narratives, a gentler pace has been essential. It shifts me to a slower gear, facilitating that breathing room to exhale. In that breath, I lift my eyes from the ordinary and glimpse into the grace of the moment.

When you think of the word slow, what comes to mind? Give it a moment before reading on.

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These are the thoughts that come to my mind: not fast enough; two steps behind; a long wait; not efficient. Basically, all negative connotations that bring frustration to any given day. And I confess, in my mind, the list ended with “not first.” See my point? It evidences so much of the narratives that have in the past dominated my thought-life. It’s interesting that I did not equate it with steady, gradual or leisurely. All valid synonyms according to my thesaurus.

Over the past year and a half, I have been reading the Bible in chronological order. The experience has been deeply enriching, and eye-opening. I purposefully try to let my mind steep in one book and story at a time and look for how is God’s character revealed in the story. What is important to him, and his interaction with humanity. Throughout both the old and the new testaments, and especially the gospels, I’ve noticed that God is never in a rush.

There are plenty of messy situations where circumstances are hard. And they may call for swift action on the part of the people facing them. But a rushed existence is not the call, nor is it God’s pace. In fact, quite the opposite. Abraham had to wait fifteen years between receiving the promise of a child and Isaac’s birth. After the call by Jesus on the road to Damascus, it would be another three years before Paul would formally begin his ministry. Waiting is often part of the equation with God. And, in the waiting, we feel the narrative slow down. In the slower pace faith is tested and refined; the soul is trained for living.   

I often catch myself acting like life must be taken in big gulps at a certain speed to show it’s going somewhere. This familiar passage in Ecclesiastes shows in the very words a rhythm for living. The fact that there is a time for each activity marks a space between them. We’re not meant to live all moments at once. Or skip through them to get somewhere faster. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

The human experience happens in morsels and sound bites. And God can be invited into each one of these. There are new mercies for each day’s worth. When I’m in a hurry, I remember to invite God mainly because I need him to finish up quickly, not because I want him.

I’m so grateful for the gift of slowing down enough to find grace in each moment, especially in the unseen ordinary ones that are so easy to dismiss. He is working in my life through those, likely far more than the big events I look to as markers.