Short and Sweet
“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
- Isaiah 32:17
On a recent Sunday morning I was so surprised by something I witnessed, that God used it to speak something essential to my heart and work something substantial in my daily practices. On our last Sunday of sabbatical, we decided to visit a friend’s church in the valley. This young pastor is an amazing leader, a faithful shepherd, and relentless laborer when it comes to sharing the Gospel and reaching the lost. Each of these faithful qualities were on full (and glorious) display on the Sunday we visited, as hundreds were in attendance, the auditorium was full of young people and pulsating with faith, and multiple individuals gave their lives to Jesus as Savior!
However, there was something in the midst of how glorious it was that got my attention. It was the focused content of the service which rocked me to my core and canceled a handful of misguided assumptions I had of what the service would look and feel like. You see, because I have known this friend for many years, based on a handful of conversations about ministry, and his huge heart for the lost, my picture of their church service was that the worship would be loud and fast-moving, the teaching would be simple, and the time together would feel rushed. Let me tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. Although the service time was exactly one hour with the worship and teaching time being considerably shorter than what we experience each Sunday at Shepherd’s House Church, each segment of the service was focused, meaningful, and given enough time and space for the Holy Spirit to move. The worship songs were substantive, each person leading was clear in giving direction and encouragement between each song, and my friend’s message was right on target filled with deep truths and rich deposits from the Holy Word.
The next day my dear friend called me to ask a question and thank us for visiting. And even before he could get a full sentence out, I remarked on what I just shared with you as my experience. It was in that moment I made the following observation, which I completely believe to be the Lord’s speaking and working in my life. I said, “Even though the service was SHORT, it did not feel RUSHED. Being rushed is not good, but short is fine.” That is the lesson I am currently pursuing and sharing with others. I do not want my life to feel or be rushed. I know that my tendency is to be consumed by the clock and controlled by my growing “to do” list. At least for me, being rushed takes a monstrous shape in the level of stress I allow over a certain item/need; in not really hearing what others are saying in a conversation (interrupting or finishing their sentence for them); in planning so far in advance that I miss the moment; and even in the way I drive. Over the last month I have found myself allowing this lesson to lead me, to teach me, and to slow me way down. A Scripture the Lord has really anchored to my soul for this season is Psalm 46:10, “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
You know what is pretty amazing about not being rushed? First, I am operating at higher levels of peace, joy, and compassion than any other time I can remember. Also, I am more aware of when others are rushed in the way they talk, they way the talk, and the overall countenance/body language they possess. Friends, there is nothing good about being rushed. It will manifest itself in ways that are contrary to God’s peaceful and perfect way. When we are rushed we are more prone to lash out at our spouse and children, we are too distracted to see the needs of others, we are difficult company to be around, we are quick to become angry or defensive, and we tend to make poor decisions. Consider some of the gracious and guiding warnings we have from the Word about being rushed or quick to act in our flesh:
James 1:19-20- “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
Proverbs 22:24- “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered.”
Proverbs 12:18- “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Proverbs 19:2- “Desire without knowledge is not good—how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”
1 Timothy 5:22- “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.”
My prayer is that we would be surprised beyond our experience and expectation to such a degree that we allow the Spirit of Truth to teach us and transform us in the areas we are misinformed and missing out on the peace, joy, and fruitful outcomes He wants to deliver our way. Slow down to give the Lord your complete attention and allow Him to remove areas in your life that are scattered, hurried, and consumed with burden. Let the One who cares for you the most be in control of those places. 1 Peter 5:6-7 is a promise of God’s calming truth to today’s chaos, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”