Choosing an Unhurried Pace!

We have just turned the corner on a New Year. I have transitioned to a new desk appointment book and hung a new wall calendar in the kitchen for doctor appointments and Monique's teaching schedule. We even received a unique calendar from our young and gracious server at the local Hibachi Grill and Chinese-American buffet. The latter has found its place on a wall downstairs near my library and sermon files.

The server seemed so proud when she came to bring us the check after our meal the other day and then surprised us with this mystery box labeled with Chinese symbols. I thought at first it might have contained a fresh supply of chop sticks and was glad it didn't because I get a cramp in my hand each time I try to use them!

Upon closer observation, I could see that there were words in English at the bottom of the box indicating that this contained a wall calendar. I was pleasantly surprised by the colorful picture of a snaking dragon-like creature that was depicted on the outside of this cloth calendar of 2020. I am not sure what the dragon symbolizes in the Chinese zodiac, but it seems to have something to do with good fortune and good health. That is good enough for me to display it for occasional reflection!

I have been thinking about a personal goal or resolution for the new year. It has to do with how I use my time. Now, you may be thinking, "Isn't this guy retired? Doesn't he have all the time in the world?" And the truth is, I do have more discretionary time since I am not employed. However, the hours of my days seem to move at a more rapid pace with each advancing year!

I write out my to-do lists with diligence at the beginning of the week and find that I still don't seem to accomplish everything I need to. There are Bible studies to prepare, articles to write, calls to make, friends to keep up with, mentoring relationships to nurture, chaplain duties to fulfill, an occasional "honey-do" list to negotiate, and daily household and seasonal lawn chores to perform as well as grand-parenting  responsibilities to follow through on. I have never seen 24 hours advance so quickly as in these days of retirement!

In this fast-paced culture of ours, I am on a quest for a more unhurried pace. I need to block out more time for prayer, reflection, Bible and other inspirational reading that will resource my writing and journaling. I want to think deeply about life and to appreciate the beautiful things all around me. I am by nature an introvert and enjoy art, nature, conversation, and quiet. Things like this require "dialing down the pace" and living with a more deliberate walk through life.  I need this for self-care and to feed my soul. I think that not only is creativity born out of this kind of pace, but also a capacity to hear God speaking to my life.

Jesus intentionally lived at an unhurried pace. He often took time for solitary prayer and reflection. The gospels record that the more the crowds demanded and the disciples required of Him, He sought out the quiet places to be with His Heavenly Father in intimate fellowship. If the Lord Jesus got up "very early in the morning, while it was still dark... and went off to a solitary place where he prayed" (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), how much more then should I choose an unhurried pace that makes time for solitary reflection?

Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Open Doors International, tells the story in his book, Faith That Endures of his conversation with the famous and persecuted Chinese pastor, Wang Ming-Dao, who asked him, "Young man, how do you walk with God?" MacMillan referenced the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer in his answer. The sage mischievously retorted, "Wrong answer! To walk with God you must go at a walking pace!"

The Bible speaks often about "walking" with God, in His ways, and according to the Spirit. Our journey with Him is best characterized as a walk at an unhurried pace. I want to experience more of life at this pace in the new year! How about you?

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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