The Pace of Grace
I would love to say I made up this title myself, but it actually came from a sermon I listened to a few months ago (s/o Pastor Micheal Todd). I would also love to say that all sermons I hear stick like this one, but that's definitely not the case either. However, this one hit me right in the gut and the main points of this particular message have continued to show themselves over and over again.
Yes, "The Pace of Grace" is a pretty clever title, but when you think about what living that out actually looks like, it becomes a pretty convicting phrase. The pastor actually defined it as "the rate of movement, progress and growth that God sets and supernaturally provides for a person".
Personally, this sounds like a way I aspire to live, in accordance to God's rate of movement and all. If you think about how that effects our daily lives though, you might hesitate before committing to His pace. The reason I say that is that I personally believe, as Christians, our greatest role model when it comes to living in a way that is pleasing to the Lord... is Jesus. And if we look at the pace of Jesus' life and ministry, it would look drastically different than the majority of our lives and "paces".
"Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10
You're probably thinking "duh Kaitlyn, He lived over 2000 years ago. Of course times looked different". Yes, that part is true, but regardless of the fact they walked every where in sandals on dirt roads and we have self-driving cars, Jesus had a steady pace. Something we as a culture, don't. But we could.
Do you ever see scripture where Jesus was rushing or running from town to town during His ministry? No. I mean the man had the massive call to share a gospel no one had hardly heard of, to the entire world. On top of that- He had to teach 12 very, very slow to learn dudes (@ you Peter) what a disciple of Jesus was and how to live that out so they could continue spreading the Good News. Annnnddd He only had about 3 years, from the start of His ministry to His crucifixion, to do so. So if anyone had an excuse to HUSTLE, it's Him.
But as far as we know, He didn't.
We see a lot of walking from town to town, a lot of gatherings with His close family, a lot of teaching, and a lot of speaking in Jesus' time throughout the pages of the Bible. It's been said His Sermon on The Mount lasted for numerous days... the man cared way more about the hearts and salvation of the people He was teaching than he did the numbers.
What we do know is that He listened to God. He was patient with His followers. He obeyed what the Spirit was telling Him to do. He took plenty of time to pray. He spoke about God often.
And if I'm being honest.... my life does not sound like Jesus' in the light of this information.
My life is (slowly getting better but still) full of deadlines, to-do lists, rushing from place to place, season to season. Sure, different seasons of my life have called for different paces, some faster than others (i.e. college), but even in the slower seasons I find ways to fill my days to the brim. Filling your day does not have to be running errands all day, it can look as simple as binge watching Netflix all day. Regardless of what it is, if you are being physically, mentally or spiritually distracted at all hours of the day- I do not think that is living like Jesus did or how He would want us to live.
When your brain is constantly preoccupied with ulterior noises how can you hear God's voice?
When you are constantly running from one place to another, how can you see where God's directing your steps?
“Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!” Hebrews 12:25
I don't think we were called to live a constantly exhausted, run-down, distracted life. The times I feel the most frazzeld, most on edge and just out of touch with the Spirit of God are the times I'm most distracted. Not taking time to be with the Lord in some form or fashion. The times I feel the need to perform, to live up to an expectation, to be impressive, to accomplish a lot of things are when I feel totally out of God's pace and absorbed the world's.
"Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet, always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you. It is certainly a higher virtue of the soul, and a greater grace, to be able to enjoy the Lord in different times and different places than in only one." —Ignatius of Loyola
This quote is by Ignatius of Loyola, but was actually quoted in a book I've been reading called Present Over Perfect. If you follow me on Instagram, my stories have been like 60% pictures of pages in this book... not sorry. So obvi I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Alsooooo, the book ties perfectly into what I've felt so convicted of: figuring out how to move at the pace of grace again. Re-teaching my soul to hear the Lord above the noise. The noise of my own false narratives and unrealistic expectations the world throws at me. Showing up for the life God wants me to live, not run by the hustle of the world. Living just like the title says, present over perfect.
Being present has been my goal lately. That looks like being present with my family at dinner and not on my phone. That looks like not saying yes to every invitation to go out with friends if I really need to unwind and rejuvenate from a long week. Giving myself grace when I mess up. Leaving work at work and school at school. Praying throughout the day. Not picking my phone up and scrolling right when I wake up. Things to slow me down, things to ground me. It's a process, yes, but I see a lot of growth already. I can hear Jesus guiding me, even if it's just in the little things, it's more than before. I have opportunities to obey Him more, because I can hear Him more. Obedience to your Creator is a pretty beautiful thing.
Is there any areas you could slow down in? Do you feel like you constantly need to be distracted? Does stillness intimidate you?
If any of those ring true for you; first, I highly recommend buying the book Present Over Perfect and two, try to slow down in some way. See if it helps. I've never met anyone who has regretted slowing down, taking a step back, or leaning into the what God's saying and doing in their lives. It's a risk worth taking. Promise.