“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” (Proverbs 19:2, ESV) He who hurries his footsteps errs. (Proverbs 19:2, NASB) Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes. (Proverbs 19:2, NLT).
Who, or what, determines the direction you go each day? And who, or what, determines the pace at which you go that direction? These are big questions, but questions, I’m afraid, that we spend far too little time reflecting upon. Somehow, we have bought into the lie that bigger and more and faster are better. We have gotten so caught up in trying to do everything, that we actually accomplish nothing of eternal significance. The most important things, and processes, in life cannot be rushed. They cannot be manufactured; they can only be grown over time. If we want to know God deeply and well, it is just going to take time. “A long obedience in the same direction,” as Eugene Peterson so beautifully stated.
Simply put, hurry is the enemy of spiritual life. When asked what someone must do to have a relationship with God that is vibrant and fruitful and alive, Dallas Willard once said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Or, as the psychologist Carl Jung once put it: “Hurry isn’t of the devil, hurry is the devil.”
In other words, speed kills. Speed breaks down and burns out. Speed is reckless and sloppy. Speed keeps us from being able to see what we need to see and hear what we need to hear. It keeps us from being able to notice and pay attention. Speed makes us miss the point; it keeps us from being able to enter into what God is doing, both within us and around us. Ultimately, speed is all about us, and not about God. If we do not watch our speed, eventually we will end up in big trouble.
Jesus, though he did so much, was never in a hurry. That is why he was able to enter into conversations with people even though he was being pulled in a million directions. He let the Father determine what he did and did not do, who he did and did not spend time with. It wasn’t determined out his own of need—or theirs, for that matter—but out of the larger purposes and direction of the Father.
That’s why he was able to stop in the middle of a crowded street to hear the story of a nameless, bleeding woman, even though he was in route to heal a dying little girl. That’s why he was able to wait four days after he heard his friend Lazarus was on his deathbed. That’s how he could show up at a pool filled with hundreds of desperately needy people and only heal one of them. That’s how he had time to go through Samaria to have a long conversation with a woman at a well, who no one else in her town would talk to. That’s how he could respond to his disciple’s statement that “everyone in town is looking for you” with the statement, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” That’s why he could wait until the fourth watch of the night to go out to the disciples on the raging sea. And I could go on and on.
Jesus did not allow hurry to take his life captive. And neither should we. If we want to have any hope of being his presence and his hands and his voice in this dark and desperate world. It will be because we took the time to be with him, and listen to him, first. And if we never slow down, that is not possible.
Slow us down, O God, so that we can do the work you have given us to do, and not merely our own. Amen.