Have you ever skipped rocks at a lake? What makes the rock skip
across the surface of the water? The shape of the rock. The angle of the
throw. The velocity or speed of the throw. It takes speed to skip or skim
across the surface. Throw it slow and it won’t skip; it just sinks. It goes
The same is true of life. If you go too fast, you just skim across the surface. If you
want to go deep, you have to slow down. Today I want to talk with you about “The
unhurried life,” and share three practical steps you can take to slow down and go
These steps are often called “spiritual disciplines” and have been practiced
by Christians for 2000 years as a means to growth and transformation. Don’t be
freaked out by the “d-word”—disciplines. Here’s the basic idea: each of these
disciplines or practices will help you get closer to God, which in turn will help you
change and grow.
ILL: Think of it this way. Let’s say you want to run a marathon—26.2
miles. How many of you could go out right now and run a marathon? Not
many! What would happen if you went out and tried today? Pain! You
wouldn’t be walking tomorrow.
If you want to run a marathon, what do you have to do? Train. You
start by getting out of your chair. Then you start walking, then you run a
couple blocks, and gradually build up to a mile. Then 2, then 3, and so on.
It takes most people months of training to be able to run a marathon. You
may not be able to run a marathon today, but if you train, you could. This is
the difference between trying and training.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (p. 1024) …train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical
training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding
promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Train yourself to be godly. If you’ve tried to be godly and failed, maybe you
should train to be godly. It’s like running the marathon; training works better than
just trying. To live The Deeper Life, you don’t just try harder, you train. You take
specific steps that will bring you closer to God and change you from the inside out.
We’re going to talk about some of those steps.
At the top of your outline it says: “To go deeper, you can’t be in a hurry.”
John Ortburg says, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can
destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well. We will just skim our lives
instead of actually living them.” Many of us suffer from “hurry sickness”. What is
hurry sickness? Faster, faster, more, more, go, go, go, faster, faster. We’re
skimming through life. Rather than a definition, maybe a description will help.
Here are a few symptoms of hurry sickness.
Constantly speeding up daily activities. We read faster, talk faster, and
when listening nod faster to encourage the other person to hurry. We eat faster.
Down on 3 rd Avenue, on Maalox Mile, you’ll find Arby’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s,
and many other restaurants which are known not for “good food” or “cheap food”
but for “fast food.” And when we realized all the time we were wasting eating at a
table, they installed the drive-through so that we could eat our food in the car, as
God intended. Faster, faster! Do everything faster! I catch myself in the morning
showering fast, shaving fast, dressing fast—and I have to tell myself, “Slow down.
Take a deep breath. Relax.”
At the grocery store check-out, do you find yourself counting how many
people are in each line, and checking how many items are in each cart, so you can
pick the fastest line? Then after you choose a line, you keep track of the person in
the other line who would have been you had you had you chosen that line. You’re
Multi-tasking. Psychologists call this “polyphasic activity”. Hurry-sick
people while they’re driving, eat, drink coffee, listen to the radio, shave or apply
make-up, talk on the phone, check their calendar, and make gestures…all at the
same time! Or at home they may try to watch television, read, eat dinner and carry
on a conversation simultaneously. Sound familiar?
Clutter. The lives of the hurry-sick lack simplicity. They have stacks of
books and magazines, and feel guilty for not having time to read them. They have
time-saving gadgets, but don’t have the time to read the instructions or figure out
how to use them. They can’t say no, so their schedules are cluttered with things to
do, and their homes are cluttered with things they never use.
Superficiality. Depth comes slowly, whether it is deep thinking or deep
relationships. When you go fast, you skim. To go deep takes time. We tend to
read a lot, but think only a little. We are glutted with information, but short on
wisdom. In our hurry-up world, superficiality marks our thinking and our
An inability to love. This is the most serious sign of hurry sickness: a
diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.
Love always takes time. Do you regularly come home from work so tired that you
have nothing left to give to your family? You’re too tired, too drained, too
preoccupied to love the people to whom you’re the most committed. You’re racing
through life, unable to love the people that matter most.
It is because hurry-sickness kills love that it is the great enemy of spiritual
life. Hurry prevents us from receiving God’s love, or giving it to others. That’s
why Jesus never hurried. He was busy, but He never hurried. He was busy, but he
always had love to give when love was called for. Jesus didn’t hurry. If we are
going to follow someone we can’t go faster than the one who is leading us. If we
are going to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives
How do we do it? What’s the cure for hurry sickness? Here are three steps.
1. Slowing: making choices that slow us down.
I’m talking about deliberately making choices that slow you down and cause
Try driving in the slow lane, at the speed limit. It may take you 5 minutes longer
to get where you’re going, but you’ll arrive much more relaxed…and without a
Or take the long way to work…or the store…and enjoy the drive.
Park in the far corner of the parking lot. You won’t have to work as hard to get a
spot, and the walk will do you good.
Eat your food slowly. Force yourself to chew fifteen times before you swallow.
At the grocery store, look for the longest line. Get in it. Let one person go in front
Go a whole day without wearing a watch.
Do some “porch time”. I was driving through a neighborhood one summer
evening and was struck by the number of people sitting out on their porches, doing
nothing. I thought, “What is wrong with these people? Don’t they have something
to do?” Hurry sickness. Then it struck me: doing nothing is doing something. It’s
porch time. And I went home and told Laina we needed some porch time. In the
summer, go sit on your porch and do nothing—watch the sunset, think, talk with a
friend, rock or swing, sip some homemade root beer. (You can do porch time in
the winter by sitting in front of your window—but you have to turn off the TV and
unplug the phone for it to be true porch time.)
You get the idea. Slowing is deliberately making choices that slow you down and
cause you to wait.
Mark 6:30-32 (p. 864) The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to
him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were
coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to
them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So
they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
If you read the first part of Mark 6, you’ll see that two big things have happened.
Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs across the country on a preaching tour, and
they’ve just returned and they’re stoked! And Jesus’ cousin and fore-runner, John
the Baptist was just beheaded. So they are all feeling a mixture of exhilaration,
grief and exhaustion. On top of that, there were so many people coming and going
that they didn’t even have time to eat. Look at what Jesus says in v. 31:
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
I love that verse! You might want to make this your memory verse for the week.
Jesus calls a time-out. He made a deliberate choice to slow down, to rest, to get
away from all the hurry and bustle and activity. Porch time. Jesus practiced
Slowing means you make deliberate choices to wait. We don’t like waiting.
We like fast, and we like faster…but we don’t like waiting. But waiting is a valued
Scriptural practice. The Bible talks a lot about waiting patiently for God.
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the
Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my
Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my
hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the
morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble
and fall; 31 but those who hope in (wait on) the LORD will renew their
strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow
weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Why all this talk about waiting on God? Is God slow? No. That’s not why we
ILL: Watch this little video. Show video.
The guy in the car had hurry sickness. He didn’t want to wait for the
little old lady. Do you ever feel like that guy? Hurried? Honking? Can’t
wait? It ended up costing him!
God is not like the little old lady. He’s not slow. But when we’re hurried, it costs
us. We skim. We’re shallow. We miss out. So we have to learn to wait. You
can’t know God, or love God, or go deep…in a hurry. Slow down.
I want to give you two more choices you can make that are “slowing
choices”. These are two time-honored, centuries-old Christian practices that help
slow us down and wait on God…and cure us from hurry sickness.
2. Sabbath: taking one day a week to rest and worship.
The practice of the Sabbath is rooted in creation.
Genesis 2:2-3 (p. 2) By the seventh day God had finished the work he had
been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God
blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the
work of creating that he had done.
God worked six days and rested on the seventh day. Even God rests! Even God
takes a day off! And He’s in charge of the universe! What’s your excuse? God
not only rested on the seventh day; He blessed it and made it holy. He blessed it:
that means He made the Sabbath good. The Sabbath isn’t a burden, something else
to do; it’s a blessing, a rest from all our doings. He blessed it and made it holy:
that means special or different. This one day is special; it’s to be different from all
the others. One day a week we stop all our regular activities and we rest and we
worship God. The Sabbath was rooted in creation and established in God’s law.
Exodus 20:8-11 (p. 64) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six
days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath
to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your
son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor
the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and
the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
This is the fourth (and longest) of the Ten Commandments. And it’s the one most
easily ignored by us. Many of us would never murder, or commit adultery, but we
regularly ignore this commandment. We don’t take a weekly holy day and rest.
We don’t show up for worship every week; we show up when it fits our busy
schedule, or our mood. And yet God put this commandment along with the other 9
that make up His top ten. Remember the Sabbath: take one day a week to rest and
For most of us, our Sabbath will be Sunday. That’s the most common day
off work and that’s the day we gather for worship. Gathering with other Christians
on Sunday to worship God is part of the rhythm of life—six days of work, a day of
rest and worship.
ILL: I had last weekend off; I wasn’t preaching. But I came to church and
worshipped with everyone else, and received God’s word from Pastor
Michael. Why would I come on my weekend off? Because I’m a Christian!
And this is what Christians do: we gather each week to worship and receive
To practice the Sabbath requires some hard choices. Sunday used to be a quiet day.
Stores were closed. Kids were home. It was a day for rest, for church, for family.
Now Sundays are packed with activity: kids and parents juggle soccer tournaments
and basketball games; stores are open requiring lots of us to work. For most
people, Sundays aren’t holy (special) any more; it’s just another day crammed with
exhausting activity. If you’re going to practice the Sabbath, you’ll have to make
some hard choices—say no to some other things so you can say yes to God. It’s
Obviously Sunday is usually not a day off for me. Some of you, like me,
work on Sunday and have to find a different day to practice Sabbath. Whatever
day it is, I challenge you to take this seriously. Take one day a week to rest and
worship…a holy day, God’s day.
Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Sacred Rhythms, has an excellent chapter on
the Sabbath. It inspired me and made me see the Sabbath as a great gift from God,
not a duty or a burden. She gives the following practical suggestions for the
What to exclude:
Work. Whatever you do during the week for work, don’t do it on this day. This is
a day to rest, not work; to be rejuvenated, not productive. Unplug from work; turn
off your computer and phone.
Buying and selling. If we’re out buying and selling, two things happen. We are
engaged in the world of commerce, not resting. And others are forced to work to
serve us. Give it a rest!
Worry. There are other kinds of work than physical work; there is also mental and
emotional work as we try to figure out our lives. The Sabbath is a day to rest
mentally and emotionally from the things that stress us. Taxes, budgets, to-do lists,
and major decision making can be saved for another day.
What to include: whatever fills you up!
Rest the body. Do what restores you physically: take a nap, go for a walk, soak in
the tub, sit in the sun, make love. In Jewish tradition, married couples get
rabbinical brownie points for having sex on the Sabbath. You’ve gotta love that!
Restore the soul. Again, do what fills and replenishes you emotionally. I can jump
on my motorcycle for an hour and come back smiling, my emotional tanks full.
Maybe for you it’s puttering in the garden, or doing a hobby, or reading a mystery,
or talking with a friend or family, or playing golf. Do that!
Replenish the spirit. I’ve already talked about one way to do this, worshiping
together. You may want to take some extra time for prayer or reflection, write in
your journal or review the week’s entries. You may want to worship or pray or
read Scripture with your family. Or you may want some time alone with God. Do
what fills you.
This is the big idea on the Sabbath. Do what fills you, rests you, replenishes you.
It’s not about prescribed religious duties. It’s not about being legalistic. It’s about
resting and being refreshed, slowing down and be filled. It’s God’s gift to you.
Mark 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man
for the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath is God’s gift to you to enjoy, not a burden to be endured. Take one
day a week to rest and worship.
3. Solitude: getting alone with God.
The last practice that will help you slow down and connect with God is
solitude: getting alone with God.
Mark 1:32-35 (p. 858) That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus
all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34
and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many
demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left
the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Jesus was up late into the night healing people. The whole town was there. He
must have been exhausted. How did He refill? He got up early the next morning
and went off alone to pray. This was Jesus’ habit. He lived with this rhythm: be
with people and help them, get alone with God and pray. Give to people and
receive from God. Busy and slow. Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of
people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus
often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Same thing. Crowds of people, then alone with God to pray. Notice it says that
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was His habit, His rhythm.
Jesus regularly practiced solitude. You should too. Why?
Ruth Haley Barton says that solitude “creates space for God”; in other
words, we make room for Him in our otherwise crowded lives. Is there anyone
here besides me who gets caught up in the pace and busyness of life, and at the end
of the day you realize that you haven’t spoken with God all day? Or listened to
God? Or even thought about God! God can get squeezed out of our lives. Don’t
misunderstand me; God is with us all day long. But I can get so busy that I forget
He’s there, or I don’t pay attention.
Solitude creates space for God, much like making a coffee date creates space
for a friend or spouse.
ILL: I can be with Laina and not be “with” her—do you know what I mean?
We can be together, but aren’t necessarily thinking about each other, talking
with each other, focused on each other. But when we go on a date, we give
each other our undivided attention. We have created space for each other.
That’s what solitude does with God. Solitude is a date with God. We create space
for God, and in that space we build a relationship. We know each other.
What do we do in solitude?
We pray. Talk with God about your deepest concerns.
We listen. Silence has always been an important part of solitude. Be still, and let
God speak to you.
We wait. Solitude is a form of slowing. You can’t do it in hurry. Get alone with
God, be still, and wait for Him to speak or lead.
We worship. Slow down, enjoy His presence and tell Him that you love Him.
We receive. There in His presence you’ll be refilled with His Spirit. He may
speak to you, giving you fresh wisdom or insight or leading.
I don’t see how you can build a deep relationship with God without some regular
solitude. Remember our memory verse? Mark 6:31 Jesus said,
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
God is inviting you to slow down, get to know Him and go deeper.