Slowing down

Oct 04, 2021 Michael Bishop sabbath solitude simplicity

Over the last week, I’ve been working my way through John Mark Comer’s excellent little book, The ruthless elimination of hurry. The title is a reference to a remark made by the late philosopher and Christian author Dallas Willard to author and pastor John Ortberg. Ortberg had just joined the staff of a large church in Chicago and he phoned Willard one day and asked him, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?” After a long pause, Willard replied, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Ortberg wrote down those words. “That’s a good one,” he said. “Now, what else is there?” Willard’s answer? “There is nothing else. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

Maybe this is a surprising response to Ortberg’s question, but Comer makes a compelling case for the wisdom of Willard’s remark as he describes the journey along which this phrase has led him. He suggests that to live in an unhurried way is the path that Jesus models, and he offers four practices to help us to adopt this way of being:

  1. Silence and Solitude – which he describes as perhaps the most difficult and radical of the practices: “intentional time in the quiet to be alone with God”.

  2. Sabbath – cultivating a restful spirit through a day of deliberate stopping, resting, delighting and worshipping.

  3. Simplicity – this has to do with focusing on the things that really matter: “less clothes, less stuff, less things we don’t need, less hobbies, less options, and more prayer, more joy, more peace, more loving relationships.”

  4. Slowing – John Ortberg describes this as ““cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we simply have to wait.” Comer suggests we try things like: driving at the speed limit and getting into the longest queue at the supermarket :)

This morning marks a significant milestone for our community as we return to one key symbol of “normal” pre-Covid life – worshipping together in our sanctuary. I hope though that as we continue to “come home” in this and other ways, we don’t simply return to the rush we knew previously, but instead are open to the slower, simpler way of Jesus!