When I was younger, one of my dreams was to run a marathon. That dream never materialized because I did nothing to prepare myself for running. Marathon running was not a heart desire. It was wishful thinking. Wishful thinking works like this: (1) I close my eyes and in my imagination see a picture of what I want. (2) I open my eyes and pouf! there it is! No effort on my part is needed to make this happen.
While I admire runners and regret that I had not chosen to be more physically active when I was younger, my preferred tempo is walking. I am at peace with my decision to walk rather than run because I believe it’s the most beneficial exercise for me in this stage of my life.
I’ve discovered that walking is the tempo that brings me joy and makes me most productive. Now, I’m using the word “walk” as a metaphor for the tempo which best facilitates my growth toward emotional and spiritual maturity. What makes walking so beneficial? It requires me to slow down and pay attention to my soul. My soul, according to John Ortberg author of Soul Keeping, is that invisible part of me that is designed for and longs to connect with God.
I’ve been reading Ortberg’s book and participating in a group study of it. He emphasizes the importance of living an unhurried life. “Hurry”, he points out is a quality of our inward life. To be hurried is to live in a climate of inward stress. To be unhurried is to live in a climate of inward rest.
An unhurried life is the kind of thing that John Greenleaf Whittier longs and prays for in these lines from his poem The Brewing of Soma, which is quoted in the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace
I love this word picture of peace and beauty–the result of living an “ordered life”. God has a prize for each one of us at the end of life’s “race” but we can only attain it if we “walk” according to the tempo designed for us.
We can never discover our best tempo by comparing ourselves with other runners (or walkers) but only by listening to the voice of the Spirit. He, our patient coach, remains with us throughout our earthly journey, assuring us of ultimate victory. Still, we must choose to follow his instructions.
Questions for your reflection:
Describe the condition of your inner life?
If you feel hurried and stressed, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what step(s) you could take to find rest.
In your stage of life, do you need to move at a slower tempo or a faster tempo?
Ask Jesus to show you what it means for you to “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).
This poem is my prayer.
Jesus, show me the tempo that I must run
To win the prize when the race is done;
Release my soul from self-centered ambition;
Teach me how to slow down and listen
With an intention to obey your command—
To follow through with what I have planned.
1/23/18 Jane Ault