As we continue our series on slowing down, I can’t emphasize enough what slowing down in life has done for me and countless others. We are exhorted in the Bible to:
- Redeem the time
- Make the most of every opportunity
- Number our days right
- Live a life worthy of our calling
- Live a life worthy of the Lord
- Set our affections on things above
- Keep in mind that life is a mere vapor
- We are pilgrims and sojourners on the earth
- It is appointed unto man once to die
Way too many of us believers, churches and ministries are a mile wide and an inch deep. We grow in lots of ways in life, but often don’t get around to becoming mature in our faith. Most of us wouldn’t dare to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” because we know very well that we are much better at living as a typical American than living as a disciple of Jesus. We are way too busy. Yet the corridors of eternity still echo with “Be still and know that I am God.” Few of us are take much time to be still, and even fewer of us really know God like the saints of old whose most pressing concern was to seek the Lord while He may be found. Sure, they had other responsibilities also, but no clock. When something with eternal consequences came to their attention, it kept their attention and they had the time or made the time to tend to it.
Most of us have no intention of giving up our conveniences and way of life and relative prosperity. I get that. I don’t want to go back to outhouses and no electricity either. Lots of life in the good old days wasn’t really that good. But we can learn a thing or two from our ancestors about slowing down and perhaps re-evaluating our priorities and how we use time. If we want to have some success in deepening our walk with God like the saints of the past, something in our busy lives has to change. Being still before God has no replacements for successful growing deeper in God. Though far from being comfortable saying, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” I have changed some things in my life to try to prioritize God and His kingdom to be first. Here are some things I have found helpful in my own life to slow down, re-set priorities and grow deeper in my faith in this shallow time in history:
- Sunday is God-day. This is not a religious thing for me, Sunday is not the Sabbath. It is just a good day to set apart for spending more time with my God
- Wednesday is also God-day. Midweek I try to re-set my focus to spend more time with Him in the hopes that I will continue to remember what is important in life throughout the week. Sometimes this extra time with Him isn’t all that much extra time, sometimes it is hours. Either way, I refocus and it is way better than the week getting away from me while too often concentrating only on secular things
- Give more. What Jesus said is true…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also
- Practice the presence of God daily in everyday life. Becoming more and more conscience of the presence of God during our mundane tasks in life greatly helps priority selection, making the right decisions and consciously living for Him first and foremost. A saint from years past, brother Lawrence, who had great success in practicing the presence of God in everyday life wrote a series of letters on this subject and it has been compiled in book form. It is called, Practicing the Presence of God, and is still available today in modern English and free on Kindle. Follow the link to get your copy
- We are told to test ourselves to see if we remain in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), and God-days are a great time to assess how things are going in our life spiritually. Honestly, evaluate how you are doing with growing in the Lord. And change things that need to be changed.
- Spiritual retreats are a great way to slow down and perhaps re-set our lives spiritually. For several years, I have spent some days and nights in a cabin in the woods to spend time with God, and He never disappoints. One great place to do this is Pacem in Terris in St. Francis, MN. It is a Franciscan retreat center created especially for people to check out of busy life for a time and connect with God. What great times I have had there!
- Embarking on a study of a book of the Bible or a certain subject is always very rewarding. It is “Studying to show yourself approved (2 Timothy 2:15), you might say. When you devour a subject in the Bible your come to really know that subject and what and why you believe. Beware, though! Sometimes when you honestly study the Bible you find that you may not have been believing something right and have to change!
- A day of prayer. The National Day of Prayer, this year on May 5, is a wonderful opportunity to take off work a half day or a day and spend extra time praying. Or, if one can’t get off work, dedicate all or most of your non-work time that day to sanctify the day for the Lord
- Fasting has always been a common thing to do in the Christian faith. It isn’t a way to manipulate God into getting your way. Fasting helps one become victorious over the flesh and deny the flesh. It is an opportunity to become more sensitive to the things of the Spirit
To conclude, growing in our faith and having the best priorities has to be intentional. If we don’t do something to that end, we will slide through life, less than we could be, and reach old age wondering what happened to all the time. Many believers desire or intend on getting control of their life and schedule with great hopes for success. But few ever actually get control and live a life of great purpose. Life gets away from most of us, but it doesn’t have to. Doing something, anything, toward slowing down and making sure our God gets the best of us is better than doing nothing. Slow down, resolve to make some changes today, and do it!