Growing up, every time I heard the Tortoise and the Hare fable, I always felt a little sorry for the hare. I mean, I know the purpose of the story is to teach that “slow and steady wins the race” and obviously that is a proven strategy for life. But, I guess I’ve always resonated with the hare. I’m not a slow and steady gal. I don’t like to procrastinate, I like to get things done and I’d rather have them done sooner rather than later. I love to push through tasks as quickly as possible mostly because I love the feeling of getting more rather than less done in a day.
But, as I’ve gotten older and matured a little, I’ve come to realize that a quick, “get it all done” pace is not a sustainable way to live. For sure God has created some people to be more task oriented and He uses all types of people, but I’ve also learned that if I will allow myself to slow down a little and savor a little more, I actually can get more done and I can do it with such a better attitude. God is not calling me to change my Type A personality into a Type B personality, but He is calling me to slow down a little so that He can use me more effectively.
Let’s take Jesus for example. I would say we could all agree He came to get the job done. He came to fulfill a purpose and He stayed on track. He was definitely not a procrastinator. But, He also started slowly and let momentum build in God’s timing. He also slowed down periodically to recharge, because He was human as well as divine. Humans need rest to recharge. We cannot run on empty.
Jesus didn’t begin His earthly ministry until He was 33. In modern times, that would be like beginning a career in your 50’s. He knew from a young age that He was the Messiah. Yet, He spent his teens and young adult years working as a carpenter with Joseph, waiting patiently for His time to come. He was the MESSIAH, the one Israel and dare I say, mankind had been waiting for, but He calmly bided His time. He didn’t sprint towards the finish line, He waited for God’s perfect timing. This is illustrated perfectly in a story told to us by John in John chapter 7,
“After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.” (ESV)
Jesus knew His purpose. He knew what God was calling Him to do, but He waited. He waited for God’s perfect timing before He made His purpose known to the world. He knew that the timing had to be right and that God would bring about His ministry in the perfect time. Sprinting ahead of God would have put things in Jesus’ hands instead of His Father’s hands.
Oh, how often I am guilty of sprinting ahead of God in the name of productivity and task accomplishment. My prayer this year is that I would learn more what it means to live the Christian life “slow and steady”, waiting on God’s timing. This doesn’t equate to a lazy, procrastinating lifestyle. Jesus was not lazy. He was patient. He was preparing Himself for the work ahead and He was allowing God to prepare the hearts of those who would experience His ministry. Jesus trusted His Father’s perfect timing. And, His ministry flourished because of it.
That wasn’t the only way Jesus serves as an example for us as we run this marathon (as opposed to a sprint). When His ministry takes off, He knows He has only a short amount of time (3 years to be exact) to do all God has called Him to accomplish. And, He pushes forward and works diligently, with purpose. But, His life was also marked by rhythms of silence and stillness. He often went away to be by Himself to pray and be still in His Father’s presence. I know if I was Jesus, my first instinct would be to say, ” I can’t slow down, there’s too much to do, there’s too many people to heal and to teach. There are too many miracles to perform. Who needs, rest and silence and sleep? I can sleep when I die.” But, not Jesus. His rhythm of rest is written in scripture enough to show us that this was a regular practice of Jesus’.
How does this apply to our lives? For me, I need to remember that the Christian life is a marathon, a long pilgrimage, not a sprint. Who I am today is not who I was 5 years ago and it is not who I will be 5 years from now. And, I can’t rush that process. My responsibility is to slowly and steadily, in God’s timing, move towards looking more like Jesus and as God does that work in my heart; I’m to seek out how He can best use me to His Glory. My job isn’t to push through, not trusting in God’s timing. All that does is make me rely on myself instead of on His work in me. And, when He does pull me forward, in His timing to accomplish the work He’s giving me to do, I pray I remember to return to Him regularly for strength and refreshment.
I can’t live this life in my own strength. Sprinting ahead of God equates to a lack of trust. Slowly, steadily running the marathon of life in constant contact with God allows me to rest in Him, trust in Him and be used by Him to His Glory, not my own.