In Jerusalem I visited the site where the temple used to be and I walked the same south entry steps that Jesus walked on. As I climbed I noticed that the steps were irregular – they varied in length, some being long and others being short. I learned that this was done on purpose in order to slow people down as they came to worship! By walking more slowly they would be helped to be more attentive to God and his Word.
We’re in a Hurry!
Imagine if we walked more slowly in our churches today! Sadly, most of us rush into church distracted and get there five minutes late — unprepared to hear God’s words and worship him with our hearts.
Most pastors and dedicated Christ-followers that I work with are in a hurry. I understand — I’ve lived that way most of my life and sometimes I still find myself back on that spinning hamster wheel!
We have so many responsibilities to accomplish, so many things we want to experience, so many people to help. So we rush around and try to fit 25 hours in a day. We think, “When I get through ______ then I’ll slow down.” But it never happens! Oftentimes I talk people in retirement who still struggle with getting stressed about trying to get more done in less time.
The Way we Walk
In Jesus’ day there was a saying, “A noble person is known by… the way he walks” (Sirach 19:29-30). For instance, distinguished men did not run – they walked and the more honorable they were the slower they walked.
The Bible has a lot to say about “the way of the upright.” It’s referred to 97 times in the Psalms alone. To walk uprightly is to walk with God, looking to him in the heavens all around you as you walk. This is not done helter skelter or in a hurry. It’s done with care and deliberateness; it’s done patiently.
Unhurried Rhythms of Grace
When Jesus said, “I am the way to the Father” (John 14:6, paraphrase) he was inviting us into his unhurried rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28-30, MSG).
Recently I was reading a book in which a respected Christian teacher said that Jesus did not have much to say about living without hurry. It’s true that the Gospels don’t record lots of instances of Jesus saying the words: “Do not hurry!” But there are many other ways of saying, “Be unhurried!”
In many different ways Jesus taught us to slow down and be unhurried:
Don’t be in such a hurry… Listen… Whoever has ears to hear, listen…
Don’t worry… Take time to listen to the birds and look at the wildflowers… Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?… Peace…
Come to me… Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light… Walk with me in my unforced rhythms of grace… Don’t run in the dark! Walk with me in the light so you don’t stumble…
Peace! Be still… Stop being so bothered and busy. The one thing that’s needed is to sit at my feet and listen to my words… Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest…
Watch and pray… Be constantly alert… Always pray… Wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit that my Father promised…
Love is patient… Take time to love your neighbor.[i]
Jesus was Always Unhurried
Jesus’ message was, “Do not hurry” because that’s how he lived. Jesus always taught from what he experienced. He knew that hurry takes us out of God’s presence and leads to many burdens and sins.
Jesus’ way of life was unhurried. He was never in a hurry – except to go the cross and die for us! When the Father said it was time he turned and headed straight for Jerusalem, leading his disciples with resolve (Mark 10:32 and Luke 19:28, MSG). Jesus’ only hurry throughout his life was to listen to his Father and to obey him.
Jesus had the most urgent and substantial call of God on his life than anyone else ever has or will — he had far more to do and less time to do it than you or I — and yet he was never in a hurry! Because of his relaxed pace and the generous margin of time he allowed between activities he was quite interruptible. Again and again the gospels record people interrupting Jesus with a desperate need or a question and he is patient to respond with grace and wisdom.
Love is Unhurried
As we learn to slow down and walk in Jesus’ easy yoke it helps us to hear God’s voice and to love others as God loves us. This is why the Apostle Paul says in the famous Love Chapter of the Bible: “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
That’s how important it is to be unhurried: we miss Love if we don’t slow down. (Notice the capital “L.”) God is Love. We need to be unhurried to enjoy God’s love, to love him, and to love others.
May God help us to Hurry Up and Be Still!
[i] Paraphrases of Jesus’ words from Matthew 16:27 (MSG), Matthew 15:10, Matthew 11:15, Matthew 6:25-28, Luke 24:36, Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV and MSG), John 12:35, Mark 4:39 (NKJV), Luke 10:38-42, Mark 6:31 (NASB), Matthew 26:41, Mark 13:33 (AMP), Luke 18:1, Acts 1:4, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Luke 10:36-37.