Our first online course, Influence from the Inside Out: How to Develop the Habit of Unhurried Time with God, went live yesterday. If you would like a coupon code to save 38% – CLICK HERE.
I do hope you’ll enjoy our online course. Today, I would like to share some of my notes from a message I shared last Sunday at Holy Trinity Church in Costa Mesa. I talked about the rhythm of ministry and prayer that marked Jesus’ life, an Unhurried Savior. This is part of the rationale for the Unhurried Time with God we talk about in the course.
The first line of An Unhurried Life goes like this: “I’m a recovering speed addict—and I don’t mean the drug. I’m talking about the inner pace of my life.”
I’m still in recovery.
I have not arrived at the oasis of easy unhurried living. I still catch myself calculating the fastest freeway lane or the quickest grocery line. I still sometimes think that the 47 seconds that I save will make a dramatic difference in the quality of my life or my work. I don’t think it does.
So when it comes to learning to live an unhurried life, what has proven most helpful is realizing that I follow an unhurried Savior. I’d like to talk a bit about that.
Sometimes when I’ve heard talk about discipleship to Jesus, the primary focus has been on doing the same sort of works as Jesus does. This is, of course, key in our discipleship to Jesus. In the Upper Room, Jesus tells his inner circle, “…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (Jn 14:12).”
And about those works, Jesus says that: “…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 (Jn 5:19).”
So we are indeed invited to follow Jesus by doing the same sorts of works as he learned to do from his Father. Discipleship is doing the same kinds of works Jesus does.
Or, when it comes to the life of discipleship, the focus has sometimes been mostly on speaking the same kinds of words as Jesus speaks. What we call the great commission at the end of the gospel of Matthew has Jesus telling his first followers, and us, to “Go make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Mt 28:19-20).”
And what we are invited to teach others is what Jesus learned from the Father. Jesus says, “…I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say (Jn 12:49-50).” Discipleship is saying the same kinds of words Jesus says.
But when it comes to our following Jesus, we don’t always hear as much about following his way. But doing his works and speaking his words must be done in his unique way if they are to be fruitful.
His is a loving way. His is a way of peace. His is a humble and gentle way. His is an unhurried way. Discipleship is lived rooted in the way—the rhythms—of Jesus.
Now, while I’m suggesting that Jesus was unhurried, that’s not to say that Jesus was never busy. As we heard in our gospel reading, Jesus often spent a day caring for the needs of the crowd, teaching them and healing them of their sicknesses. The text says, “…news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
Jesus was busy, but he was not hurried. Busy is simply a matter of schedule. Hurried is a matter of soul. When I recommend unhurried living, I’m not suggesting an emptier calendar, but a fuller soul.
After Luke describes this very full day Jesus spent caring for the crowd, he makes this statement about the rhythm of Jesus’ life: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” I’ve got to be honest. In the first decade of my Christian life and ministry, I’m pretty sure that verse wasn’t in my Bible. I don’t remember reading it or hearing anyone talk about it.
But Jesus often withdraws to be alone to pray. Often. Jesus was unhurried enough to often enjoy time in the presence of his Father. He does not do this once in a while, but often. It’s a pattern—a rhythm—in the life of Jesus. And it’s a rhythm we’re invited to follow. It’s His way.
I think that when Jesus withdraws to lonely places to pray, he hears, or at least remembers, the voice of his Father: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Mt 3:17).” Jesus then speaks to us of the love he hears from the mouth of the Father.
He says to us, “You are beloved by my Father. You bring great pleasure to his heart.” In solitude, Jesus remembers again who he is because he remembers who the Father is and what the Father says. In solitude, we can do the same.
I mean, how did Jesus come to know what the Father was doing so that he might join the Father in that work? How did Jesus know what the Father was saying so that he might speak similar words? Might it not been because he often withdrew to listen to the Father and look to the Father?
What does this say about our own life of following him? We might decide that this unhurried way of Jesus would be good for us, too. It might help us to find a way to follow Jesus to the lonely places, often, to be with the Father, to listen to the Father, to talk with the Father.
When we withdraw into lonely places, we step away from “doing” places into “being” places, from “speaking” places into “listening” places, from “serving” places into “receptive” places. We withdraw to take a long, deep inhale of the goodness, the generosity, the loving presence of the Father…just like Jesus does. We learn to resist the temptation to believe that our life is all exhale.
What happens if I don’t inhale after speaking this sentence? What if I keep on talking and fail to take a breath? Pretty soon I run out of air. [Inhale now]. But sometimes I’ve lived my life and done my work as though I don’t need to inhale.
I am learning to follow Jesus’ rhythm of work and prayer. I am learning to follow Jesus to solitary places to pray. What might that look like?
It might look like occasionally setting aside an hour or two, maybe even part of a day, to simply be with God for no other reason than to be receptive, to be attentive, to listen, to be present.
It might look like taking a few moments at the beginning of the day, in the midst of our day, or at the end of the day to be still and remember that God is God, and he’s much better at being God than I am (even though I sometimes catch myself trying to do his job for him).
It might look like taking a walk that isn’t so much for aerobic benefit as it is for soul benefit. To look and listen while I walk. To let my heart and mind open up into the presence of God. To speak of my worries and to listen to the voice of the Prince of Peace. To speak of my hopes and dreams and to listen to the One “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Eph 3:20).”