REFLECTION – “SLOWING DOWN” BY WILL FORSYTHE

I sat around the large wooden dinner table with friends. We had all gathered because we wanted to have a place for richer conversation, we wanted to talk about the deeper things in life, our relationship with God, our struggles, our doubts, our hopes. But the conversation started by talking about the everyday stuff: weather, sports, funny things our kids had done. Then in an awkward, yet needed, transition some brave soul finally dove in and started talking about what we had all come to discuss. He started the conversation with a question,

“So what do you think God has been up to in your life lately?”

The room was silent for a while and we all looked away, hoping someone else would start. Then the sharing began. I can’t give you all the details about what we talked about that night because I think that those stories belong at that table, with those trusted people. But I can share some of my story.

“What do I think God has been up to in my life lately?”

To know the answer to the question would be crazy, because first off, I’m not God. My small view of my world hopefully isn’t the only thing God is up to. But I can share the words that I have heard repeated in my heart, my prayers, my conversations.

“Slow Down…”

Whenever God is up to something in my life, it’s always a simple message. Maybe that’s because He is well aware of who he is working with.

“Slow Down…”

I hear that whispered every time I work on the calendar with my wife.

“Slow Down…”

It echoes whenever I say yes to one more meeting, or sign up for one more event.

“Slow Down…”

I hate this idea. If I slow down, I often feel like I’m failing, or worried I’m going to be missing out on something. Slowing down sounds like something you would say to your Grandpa, not something for a 32-year old young professional, who is balancing the demand of family, leadership, and friendships. Yet God continues to whisper and remind me that my identity is not found in how much I do, how productive I am, but my true identity is rooted in what has been done for me in Christ.

How does one slow down, when the demands of life are simply too high? This is when I’m thankful to be a part of the rich history of the Christian Church. For many centuries, the Church has taken part in a season of repentance, reflection, and preparation–a time to slow down. During Lent, 40 days before Easter, the All Souls community is invited to enter a journey with Christ, much like he entered into the desert for 40 days before starting his ministry. In the gospel of Mark, the story of Jesus is fast-paced, quickly moving down the road towards a cross, a tomb, and resurrection. But before they get there, they slow down, sit around a large wooden table, share an important meal together, and Christ tells them what God is up to.

“And as they were eating, he took bread and after blessing it, broke, and gave it to them…”

I think this is the journey that Christ calls us to during Lent–to believe that we have are blessed as God’s creation, yet we are all broken, and Christ gave himself, his body, so that we can be renewed, be known and loved, so that we can slow down and find new life.

I don’t know what God is up to in your life, but I can guess that slowing down for 40 days, and preparing for new life in Christ may give us all a little direction, particular encouragement, or maybe even some hope as we travel on this fast-paced road together.

DEVOTIONAL READINGS

3/5 Ash Wednesday – Psalm 51
3/6 Thursday – Jonah 3:1-10 & Romans 1:1-7
3/7 Friday – Jonah 4:1-11 & Romans 1:8-17
3/8 Saturday – Isaiah 58:1-12 & Matthew 18:1-7