’Ritardando’* Time17 April, 2020
2020 began with a bang for me. On the first day of the New Year, I was caught on camera for speeding and slapped with a hefty fine and demerit points for failing to conform to a red light signal. The traffic light had just turned amber and I had thought I could make it across at my current speed. I was wrong! It wasn’t the happiest way to start the year, but I felt that the Lord was teaching me some precious lessons in preparation for the coming days of peril.
Slow Down to Stop
For those like me who need a refresher course, amber means slow down and prepare to stop! Period.
One of the characteristics of modern life is that of ever-increasing speed. Let’s be honest; even during this period of quarantine and enforced rest, it’s still very easy to be busy. With HBL (home-based learning) and parents WFH (working from home), families in confinement can be overwhelmed with so many extra tasks added to our schedules.
But the wise resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life, and begin to focus on the things that matter most. They’re aware that there’s more to life than just increasing its speed and adding to the to-do list.
So let’s begin to simplify our lives. The government has restricted our activities to essential services. Let’s take a leaf from it and start to ponder what the essentials are for us and our families.
In March, everything in my family had to slow and come to a standstill when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We had to reduce our activities to the ‘essentials’ only and focus on what was most important to her. My mom had always been a hard worker and her love language was service. But she had to suddenly experience a ‘forced stop’ and learn to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:11). Interestingly, her room in the hospice was named ‘St Martha’. It was almost as though God was acknowledging her spirit of service, but was telling her that it was time to stop and allow others to serve her instead.
So remember, when the light turns amber, SLOW DOWN. A jammed break or sudden forced stop will only hurt you and others. A fine may be an unwelcome warning, but an accident is irreversible and brings much grief.
Slow Down to Love
In his sermon ‘A Divine Pause’, Pastor Yang quoted this excerpt from a Japanese theologian named Kosuke Koyama (Three Mile an Hour God) – ‘Love has its speed. It’s a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we’re accustomed. It goes on in the depth of life at 3 miles per hour. It’s the speed we walk and therefore the speed the love of God walks.’
Perhaps during this season, God is slowing us to His divine speed of love?
In Genesis 33:13-14, after meeting his brother Esau, Jacob asked to lead his family in the pace of his children and flocks. “You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die. Please, my lord, go ahead of your servant. We will follow slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for the livestock and the children…”
I’d like to suggest that Jacob slowed not because of his limp, but because God had changed his speed after the wrestling match in Peniel.
Let’s begin to slow down and walk at the pace of our weaker and younger ones – perhaps our spouses, children or elderly parents. The voice of the internalised parent constantly orders us to ‘Hurry up, hurry up’, but I feel so grieved when I see the short legs of a whining toddler hurtling forward in a vain effort to keep up with a fast-striding parent. We’ve a Heavenly Father who’s so patient with us and is willing to walk at our pace. Let’s emulate Him instead.
Slow Down to Listen
Our pace can define how we relate to and communicate with others. Have you ever noticed how conversation nowadays is often a pressured race, a procedure, a verbal sparring, and a competitive event? Good conversation owes as much to listening in silence as to simply spouting words and ideas. But for most of us, listening is a difficult art to learn, perhaps because of the pace of our lifestyle. Are we constantly in such a hurry that we’ve become dull of hearing?
I believe the next 50 days will be significant as we remember how our Risen Saviour appeared to His disciples after His Resurrection and spoke to them of things pertaining to His Kingdom – how He adjured them to WAIT in the Upper Room after His Ascension, and until the Spirit was poured out on them at Pentecost. Lou Engle has just launched another wave of 50 days of a prayer movement ‘Passover to Pentecost’ to contend for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to set the captives free and to bring in the greatest harvest of souls.
Will you join me and many around the globe to slow down, to walk in the pace of God’s love and to take time to hear and understand what the Spirit is saying to His Church?
*Ritardando in music means a decrease in speed.
Ps. Timothy Chong