Earlier this week, Gem and I had the treat of leading a workshop called “Cultivating Spiritual Health: The Unhurried Way of Jesus.” A group of about 600 leaders had gathered from one large denominational region in our part of the country. We always find the challenge of hurry gets a hearing from leaders.
Our workshop was held was held in the student lounge, which was right next to the entrance of this large building and had open walls on two sides. People were hurrying in and out of the building. This allowed the sound of lobby conversations and students lifting weights to drift into the room. (“Drift” is a bit gentle for the noise level in our room. “Slam” might be slightly more accurate).
Our plan had been to open our workshop with a guided prayer in Psalm 62. (This is one of the meditations in our online course, “Encountering God in Scripture”). I realized that the noise level in our room and the attempt to guide these leaders in a prayerful experience was going to be a huge challenge.
Since there was no way to change our setting, I decided to do something I often encourage leaders to do: when something gets in the way of what you were trying to do, find a way to include it rather than fight it.
I opened with these comments: “Today, I want to talk with you about cultivating spiritual health in the unhurried rhythms of Jesus. (I literally had to shout so that the group could hear me). If Jesus’ unhurried way only helps us when our situation is ideal, then it isn’t nearly as powerful as if his way helps us even when circumstances are well outside what we’d hoped.”
The leaders got it. Gem then guided them through a version of this Psalm 62 meditation (again, literally shouting as she went). After about five minutes, when she had finished, we asked for feedback from the participants.
One woman shared that, at first, all the background noise was distracting her and making it feel impossible to concentrate. After a while, though, she shared that all the surrounding voices gradually became a kind of white noise as she continued to lean into and focus on the prayer we were sharing.
This is how following the unhurried way of Jesus works. It isn’t just for vacations, or days that are empty of appointments or tasks, or seasons that are relatively quiet. Jesus’ unhurried way just might work best in the very places where we are most tempted to feel anxious, overwhelmed or stressed.
A secret to Jesus’ unhurried way of life and work was that he never did life or work alone. He knew that he was always with the Father, and the Father was always with him. The presence of the Father brought peace, courage, energy and direction to his work. And it does for ours as well if we’ll let Him.
Gem and I find ourselves in one of the busiest seasons of work in memory this Fall. I have more outside engagements this month of October than I’ve ever had in my ministry career. I’m sometimes tempted to feel overwhelmed or stressed, but it keeps helping to remember that everything I’m doing, I’m doing with my Father. It’s just Jesus and me doing our work together.
What’s life like for you these days? Has the fall felt like a full season in your own life and work rhythms? How might you allow yourself to remember that you aren’t doing any of this alone? How might you welcome the peace, the joy and the mighty, empowering Presence of God to be with you in it all? You don’t have to wait for an ideal season to enjoy the rest and refreshment of God’s presence.