What's Your Pace? - Jeremy Thom

This past Sunday we wrapped up an 11-week teaching series called “Incredible Journey”. It was a series in which we looked to the Psalms. We also looked to some historical Christian guides, who traveled the journey of following Jesus long before us, and wrote down their stories. We went on a journey with them this summer so that we could understand how to better navigate our own journey. We’ve spent time counting the cost of the journey, understanding and preparing for the valleys, and remembering the blessings and joys that come along the way. Every week was filled with truth that my soul needed to hear. Every Psalm seemed to capture an emotion that I was feeling. It really is amazing how Scripture has a way of doing that.

One of the things I have found myself processing throughout this series is the idea of “pace”. Is there an ideal pace at which to move through this incredible journey? Especially in light of the pace of the world, “go, go, GO.” Does our destination require a speedy finish?

Our guides from the series didn’t seem to move too quickly. They often paused, finding solitude, entering the “tabernacle,” asking questions, spending time with Jesus, pursuing the Holy Spirit’s lead…but not going anywhere quickly. The Psalmists often seem to quickly move their attention to God after spending time in lament, but it seems that their situations didn’t actually change. In fact in Psalm 27:11, David asks that his attention would be in the right direction in the midst of his situation, not that his situation would change.

As a staff, we are reading a book about how we grow “Deeper” in Christ (by Dane Ortlund), and we recently read the statement that, “many thinkers down through the corridors of church history…have taught that we will move forward in the Christian life by not moving past the truth that forgave us in the first place”.

Now it gets really confusing, and slow. How do we go on a journey in which we never actually leave the starting point? And yes, a couple of weeks ago, I challenged us all to live in light of our destination. Um, so how do we “run the race”, as the Apostle Paul said, while never leaving the starting line, but constantly pursuing the finish line?

I’m not going to pretend to have an adequate answer to this question, but I share something that God has taught me; the quicker (more frantic) my pace in this life, the more I pursue worldly ambitions. The slower (or more patient) my pace, the more I remember my starting point and keep my eyes on the journey.

See, the quicker our pace, the easier it is to fall into a pursuit of worldly success (wealth, stuff, power). We put our attention towards quick fixes, climbing the ladder, gaining fame, protecting our image. But when we slow down we have an opportunity to look back and remember the starting point. It’s a starting point that is all about our need for a savior - where our need was fulfilled through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross - where we need to restart from everyday, maybe every hour. It’s this reminder that helps us to understand that the journey is not short and quick. We are not perfected in a day or made holy in a week. We are still sinners - albeit saved sinners, in need of Christ’s forgiveness, love, and grace, everyday. It’s a starting point that constantly humbles us in a way that gives us the opportunity to live well, to love others well.

Even though I still find mystery in the idea of journeying well while never leaving the starting line, there are practical things we can do to keep a good pace:

You probably have a few things to add to this list, things that God has used in our life to remind you of your need for him, as well as the deep gladness we experience when we accept his free gift of salvation.

And one other thing, having a patient pace on the journey of following Jesus doesn’t mean that we are slow in all things. Rather, journeying well gives us the space to move quickly when immediate care, support, or protection is needed. Having space in our lives to be reminded of God’s love for us, gives us the opportunity to love others well. When we run the journey at the world's pace, we don’t have the capacity to care well for each other.

1 Corinthians 9:25 - "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

As followers of Christ, our starting point (the cross) puts us on a different path. Our destination (our crown) is different. How we live this journey, and the pace in which we live it, should be different from the world. Life will still be hard, crises will come, but this journey can be incredible as we experience the peace and true joy of walking with Jesus. So slow down a little, and WALK with Jesus. It’s an incredible journey, well worth the pace.

Jeremy Thom
Campus Pastor | Hope City Church