Slow Down (October 31, 2018)
Dear VICC family,
My daily Bible reading habit has changed a lot over the years, but time and again I find myself returning to the Book of Psalms as my daily scriptural food. A couple of weeks ago I was on the ferry heading over to visit my dad. As usually happens, the morning routine left no time for reading my Bible, and so I was using the ferry ride to read and pray over that day’s psalms. As I read one psalm and then the next, I noticed a man a few rows behind me speaking loudly on his phone. He was probably in his 50s and it sounded like he was giving his adult son a call. I was able to tune him out fairly easily, but in the process my own mind began to wander. I normally read about five psalms a day right now as my “spiritual breakfast,” but three psalms in my mind and spirit were starting to feel full. I looked out the window and decided to use the rest of the ferry ride to go outside in the wind and enjoy God’s creation. But something stopped me. I looked down at my Bible and decided to push through the last two psalms. At first, I read them like I was reading a laundry list. “Just get it done.” But as I slowed down and read more meditatively, I felt my soul being refreshed. As I closed my Bible and looked up, I saw that the ferry was approaching the dock. I heard the gentlemen a few rows behind me say, “Well, the ferry is about to dock. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to your dad. Love you, son.” And it was like, underneath his words to his son, God was speaking the same words to me.
Now, I don’t want to imply that I would somehow have been in sin had I gotten up and gone outside. I don’t even imply that I would have stopped talking to God. Likely I would have used the time to pray. Often the beauty of where we have been graced to live naturally incites words of gratitude and prayer. But there was something in that moment about not being rushed. Not saying to myself, “Oh! You don’t want to miss that view!” Something about deciding to slow down my heart and mind and give God’s Word five more minutes of my time. It was meaningful.
It can be very easy in our religious culture to get moralistic and performance-driven. That could have been, and maybe in part even was, what was going on in me when I decided to keep reading. But in our wider human experience, it can also be very easy to rush. To have our minds flit from one shallow thing to the next. “Oh! There is something that can’t be missed!” But maybe we can grow past both these mistakes. Maybe we can realize, truly realize, that there is no such thing as earning grace. And maybe we can slow down enough to experience the grace we haven’t earned.
Your partner on the journey,