In Our God Focus time this week, our collegue Ros invited us to consider the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’; central to which was the idea that Jesus does not call us to hurriedness or stress. The words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 call us into a very different space than the ones that our human nature tends to want us to dwell. In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, he captures verse 30 as “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” What a promise! The promise that we don’t need to live and breathe restlessly and sleeplessly; but that the things of importance in life take time, and that is okay.
I was puzzled when Ros shared that Dallas Willard in a conversation described Jesus as “relaxed”. It almost seems too easy an answer from a great thinker about spiritual life. But as Ros unpacked it, I must admit that it makes perfect, if confronting sense. Jesus always seems to have time. He pauses to heal, to listen and ask questions, to be detoured to the house of someone sick (or even dead). For me the Triumph Entry is on the steady back of a donkey, a mode of transportation not known for its haste. And even in his last hours before his death, and the glimpses we see of him before his ascension there is not a sense of headlong rushing and frantic activity. Rather there is Jesus taking time to wash his disciples’ feet, to cook them a fish brekky, and to nurture broken Peter.
Good things, worthwhile things take time. In a Michael Leunig prayer, we read, “Nothing can be loved at speed”, and indeed, in 1 Corinthians 13, love is first defined as patient.
This morning’s God Focus has given me a lot of food for thought. I have realised, that my template for understanding the ministry of Jesus reflects the busy lives of pastors I grew up with, and indeed, my own pattern of busyness in pastoral ministry. Surely, Jesus was as flat out as our pastors, right? And he only had three years to get everything done!
And so I turn again to Matthew 11 – “Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
My prayer for you and our community is that we will be able to see and meet the relaxed Jesus – the Saviour-King who had time, who gave others the gift of his time, and who knew how to live rightly and godly. ~ Graham
© Graham and Ellie Scott