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Pilgrims Pay Attention to Pace

The concept of pace is critical. For a runner to perform at their peak they need to run at the right pace. For our bodies to function correctly the heart must beat at a consistent pace. For the pilgrim, proper pace holds three things in tension:

  • Attention to what is.
  • Reflection upon what was.
  • Anticipation for what will be.

In the canyon I recently hiked, your pace will make you or break you. Water is limited. High ground in the narrows is sparce and there is danger of flash flooding. Questions like…”did I eat enough, will I have enough food to last me the week, did I bring too much, should we push hard for a while and rest or go slower longer, do we want to camp near water or carry it with us?”

What I’ve learned in my 11 years of backpacking is that we often default to “hurry,” just like we do in our everyday life.

Hurry reveals a perverted relationship with time. We hurry when we’ve mismanaged time, when we’re running late, when we’re trying to squeeze things in, when we’re overcommitted, when we’ve failed to say ‘no,’ because it makes us feel important, and a mirade of other reasons. But I stick with what I said, hurry reveals a perverted relationship with time.

How can I say that? Because Jesus is the Christian Pilgrim’s model and there is not even a whiff of hurry in him. Don’t play the old, “But he was God,” card here. If his life was not followable then God is a cruel trickster and someone I’m not sure I want to devote my life to.

In Jesus we certainly see urgency and passion. He had more to do in less time than anyone in history. But there is no hurry. He had time for prayer. He had time for conversations. He had time for the people on the edges; scoundrals, children, prostitutes, disenfranchised, and the broken. He had time to take side trips, go to parties, notice the flowers and birds, and time to point them out to the hurried people around him.

So how do we live more at Jesus’ pace than at the pace of a culture who wears busyness as a badge of honor?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Right now give God your to-do list and give him permission to change it.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you welcome the interruptions that will come.
  • And when someone interrupts the task you’re working on, behold them, look into their eyes, remember they are a person, listen, and remember that they are beloved by God as much as you are.

Just for fun pay attention for the next day or so to how many people respond to the question, “How are you doing?” with, “Busy.” I think you’ll be surprised and a bit motivated.

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