My class at church is studying The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg. I’m an exceptionally fast reader, but this book . . . this one requires pauses. Lots of pauses. There’s a lot to take in. I expect to read this book again. Annually.
This week we’re in the chapter on “An Unhurried Life.” It prompted a lot of lively discussion (I love lively discussions, don’t you?) about whether being unhurried was really a good thing or not, seeing as how some people seem to already operate at snail’s pace.
My opinion? It’s more about attitude than pace.
Moving rapidly does not always mean you’re going too fast—but it might. Going slowly doesn’t mean you’re falling behind—but it might. The trick is to find the appropriate speed and live in it.
How? I think it was the great choral conductor Robert Shaw who said, “Rhythm is always going on. You just have to join it.” Easier said than done, Mr. Shaw. But he has a point.
In a symphony concert, the conductor sets the tempo. In theory, all the performers watch the conductor and everybody stays together. In practice, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes one section rushes ahead, another falls behind, and the result can be (for you non-musicians, this next phrase is a technical term) a train wreck. I’ve been a passenger on that train a few times and it’s not pretty.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess I may even have contributed to the disaster a time or two.)
One of the great temptations in a concert is to ignore the conductor’s beat and listen for your cue. The problem is, sound can take a while to travel…so by the time you hear your entrance, you’re late. If you listen for the person next to you to come in…you’re late. If you stop paying attention because you think you know what you’re doing…you may inadvertently call God a vegetable. (That’s another story; read it here.)
It is tempting, especially in this multi-tasking age, to rush through everything, everywhere, all the time. Hurry! If you don’t you’ll get left behind.
But what about all the things you miss in your headlong rush to the finish line? And where is that finish line, exactly?
Is your goal to get done? Or is your goal to experience, appreciate, and learn from the journey?
In a concert, the only way to be sure you’re going at the right tempo is to keep your eyes on the conductor. It may or may not feel right (to you or to those around you). But if you keep your eyes fixed on the conductor and follow his lead, you’ll move to the right place at the right time.
So this week I’m going to try to stay focused on God’s tempo and let him tell me when to speed up or slow down.
Who’s with me?