One of my favorite theologian’s favorite theologians once said, “Jesus did ministry at the speed of 3 mph.”
At first, when I heard this it registered as a pithy point made by a bible teacher… because yes, Jesus walked everywhere so he did in fact do ministry at the speed of about 3mph.
However, we don’t walk everywhere. We drive. And if you are anything like me then you drive quick, fast, and in a hurry. Factor in modernity and the speed of information spreading is exponentially greater than this. We aren’t exactly comparing apples to apples here. So is the fact that Jesus did ministry at a pace of 3 mph really relevant? Immensely.
Something that the Lord has been convicting me of lately is my pace. I work 80 hours a week from three different jobs each with a different demand on its own, have 3 toddlers at home who have what seem like unending needs to be met, a gorgeous wife who is in a demanding and time-consuming graduate program, and a plethora of familial needs that seem to be arising more and more frequently. To say the least, we are rolling 90 to nothing with no end in sight. If I'm being honest, there was a part of me - albeit a prideful part - that was proud of this. I was meeting needs, getting things done, helping grow the church, operating in my calling, raising my kids, being a supportive husband, and a good son.
I was thriving…or so I thought.
I remember a day, quite recently, when the Lord put someone in my path to minister to. My only job at that moment was to be present with them, listen to their story, be a comfort, be an encouragement, and simply care. But I could not will myself to be there. My mind was racing with all the things that I needed to do, my body reacting to it by fidgeting, and my spirit was just callous. I'm embarrassed to say that, even though I sat through that conversation, I cannot honestly tell you what most of it was about. That's the day that the Lord convicted me about my pace.
He pointed me to Mark 10:49. If anyone had the excuse of being busy, it's the Savior of the world. In that chapter alone, Jesus is doing all kinds of works. He's just left one region and heads to Judea where he teaches the crowds, puts the Pharisees in their place, blesses the children who come to him, and teaches the rich young man. He gets on the road again where he foretells of his death a third time and teaches James and John. The Lord wanted to bring me to blind Bartimaeus. In the Jewish culture, blindness made Bartimaeus an outsider. He was unclean. Jesus was not even "supposed" to interact with him. Then we get to verse 49.
"And Jesus stopped…"
Jesus, the King of Kings, effectively puts saving the world on hold for a moment to be present with Bartimaeus when no one else would even touch him.
Sanctification is a movement, not a moment. It's the process of becoming more like Christ. To be more like Christ, we have to move as He moved. It's not just about building our faith, praying harder, interceding more, worshipping louder, and fasting more frequently. Let me be clear, we do need to do those things! However, one thing that this has shown me is that working nonstop and consistently getting a long list of to-dos checked off is not a spiritual gift and does not make me more like Christ even though I can wrap it all up with the positive bow of having a strong work ethic. If all the "necessary" that we have in our lives makes us too busy to love those around us, then isn't it clear that something has to give?
I was too busy that day to give someone the respect of being present with them. I missed the mark that day.
Can you relate?
Is there a moment you look back on and know you just missed it?
Why do we do this? Why do we fill our schedules to the brim leaving no margin and create bad versions of ourselves? In my time reflecting on this, I realized that to effectively slow down I was going to have to face an inner truth that we all cognitively deny but somewhere internally it has a hold on us: the truth that our worth is tied to what we can produce. In an effort to honor the lesson that the Lord was clearly trying to teach me, I put this at His feet and asked for clarity.
He showed me something that I had never gleaned from the creation story. We are all familiar with the end of the creation story, "on the seventh day he rested." What was revealed to me is that it is not just about the importance of the Sabbath. This was written to the Jewish people who had been in captivity in Egypt where their literal worth was calculated and measured by how many stones they could produce in a day. As they are reading the creation story, it comes to its biggest point with the Lord calling what he had created in 6 days good enough. God effectively told his people - a people who had been bloodied and beaten and measured and enslaved - that you are not what you can produce! You are Mine and you are loved!
What we are experiencing today is nothing new. We know that from Ecclesiastes - nothing new under the sun. The thing about today is that we choose a lot of what keeps us ensnared.
So, I told the Lord on that day that I wanted every part of me to please him. My thoughts, my desires, my words, my actions, my motives, my beliefs… I want them all to please him. I know I'm saved and I know that I'm loved and I know that I love the Lord. There is a difference between knowing something and believing it. Choosing to believe it, to rest in the unfailing character of God, allowed me the freedom to see myself as he sees me and start the process of slowing down and moving like Jesus… at 3 mph.