Faith formation is a slow process. It takes time to develop maturity. There are no short cuts. There is no quick and easy fix that will get you to where you need to go. The path toward maturity is slow-moving and will require patience. Spiritual maturity must happen at the right speed. If we attempt to accomplish spiritual maturity all at once, we will find ourselves in trouble. Therefore, we must embrace the slow path toward faith formation.
This slow path toward spiritual maturity reminds me of playing a song at the right speed. You may hit all of the right notes, but if you play the song too fast or too slow it won’t sound right. I’m frequently in a rush to get through my daily quiet time with God. I know the value of the discipline of daily quiet time with God. However, I also seem to have a million other things to accomplish. So, I rush through my quiet time. I may hit all the right notes (prayer, Bible reading, and the other spiritual disciplines), but the song (the intentional acknowledgment of and rest in God’s presence) isn’t what it should be because I’m playing the right notes too fast.
The Long Process:
I know that faith-building is a life long process. Therefore, it requires daily intentional time on my part to put myself in the position to be more aware of the indwelling presence of Jesus in my life. I have experienced the power of silence with God. I know the value of reading the scriptures every day. The importance of prayer in our relationship with God is immeasurable. I am acutely aware that God speaks in those unrushed quiet moments with him. But….still, I rush through them as if I have something more important to get to.
Regular readers of my personal blog know my love for Henri Nouwen. He has been invaluable to me in my faith formation. Nouwen regularly highlights the need for the quiet disciplines like silence, solitude, meditating on God’s word, and contemplative prayer. He says “O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.” I know this to be true, but…still, I rush.
The Holy Spirit has been prompting me of late to slow down. I need to hit the right notes at the right speed. I am reminded that there is no matter more important before me when the day begins than to enter into the rest of God’s transforming presence. The author of Psalm 46:10 reminds us to take the slow path:
Be still and no that I am God.
I can usually manage some semblance of stillness. The problem is that in the moment of stillness I am frequently worried about the next thing that I need to accomplish. My identity is tied to what I accomplish. I need to remember that in God’s eyes I am so much more than what I produce, create, or process. I am created in his image and therefore am valuable apart from everything else. I act as if God will love me more if I do more, but the reality is that it is impossible for him to love me more or less than he already does. Far too often, I fail to live into the truth of that.
So, what I want to do is to slow down and be more attentive to God at the moment. I want to be less rushed and more focused on God when I enter into my quiet time with him. I want to play the right notes and have the song be beautiful. It isn’t easy with all the things before me that I believe (rightly or wrongly) that I need to do. Sometimes I get in my own way. But, that is the path forward for me. I know the value of the slow path. I’ve experienced the power of the slow path. Now, its time to walk the slow path.
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you rush through your alone time with God to get to other things?
- Do you believe that if you spend a certain amount of time with God it will please him and he will love you more?
- How would you define quality time with God?