To Grow, Go Slow
Word of Life Florida After I preached last night, a student from the Bible Institute said he wanted to ask me some questions because, as an "older man of God” (his words), he thought I would have some wisdom to share. I said I would gladly try. He wanted to know about my personal "walk with God,” by which he meant my times of prayer and Bible study and what I had learned that I could share with him. Go slow, I said. Take your time.
In the last few years I’ve been slowing down my Bible reading. I’m not in a hurry to meet a certain goal or to check off a box or to complete a certain number of chapters each day. I’ve decided to take as much time as I need. If I want to spend a week in one chapter or just a few verses, that’s what I do. "Make sure you get the low-hanging fruit,” I told him. In the evangelical world we sometimes think we please God by doing more. So we rush along, we read fast, we check the boxes, and we do it at hyperspeed because we’re busy. Sometimes we don’t even think about what we’ve just read. I’ve written elsewhere about my plan for Bible Listening, which involves listening to an audio version of the Bible while reading the text at the same time. That works especially well for me in the poetic and narrative parts of the Bible. It definitely slows me down. Same thing is true when I pray. I don’t pray very well when I’m sitting down. I pray better standing up and walking around. And I pray even better when I’m riding my bike. I told the young man to remember that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time because you’re under enough pressure everywhere else. Go slow so that when you read the Bible, the truth sinks in. To shift the metaphor, sometimes we’re in a canoe running the rapids of life. Nothing wrong with that. The rhythm of life changes with the seasons. But generally speaking, the greatest saints didn’t come fully formed from the hand of God. He shaped them gradually, over time, through all the seasons of life, including times of sorrow, opposition, confusion and discouragement, so that in the end they were truly great souls. Quick fixes don’t work in the spiritual life.
You can’t rush the river of God’s purpose. Give God time to do his work in you. If you want to grow, so slow.