Sustenance for The Spirit
In Boise, Idaho there are a large number, and variety, of coffee shops. My son lives there and is a connoisseur of coffee, so he took me to one of his favorite spots, a coffee shop called “Slow by Slow.” I’m a relatively new coffee drinker, but anything I have ordered there has been really good, so I can definitely recommend it. The concept is implied in the name. For really good coffee or tea (they offer both) it takes time. They use a slow drip method and take care to measure, time and wait for right results. There are tables and chairs and other offerings to encourage stopping and staying a while, which may be another reason my son enjoys going there. It’s a good way to pace life, slowing it down a notch or two.
As a culture, this goes against the grain (or coffee grounds). Lately, I have found the idea of stopping and slowing down popping up in many different forms, on a number of topics. Psalm 46:10 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” I see it on decorative wall plaques and used in Christian self-help books. I’ve read about stopping and/or slowing down as the theoretical step to healing and recovery in several, rather diverse areas. A short list would include decision-making, prayer, making “space,” confession, problem-solving, inner well-being, and grief. In all these areas, a time to slow down, or stop and think, is considered to be a major step in the process.
Why do we need so many reminders? As I said, it goes against our nature, which is more inclined to achieve and produce. We seem to be wired that way. It is actually very powerful to consider that something so simple can be available to us at any moment and so prescriptive for whatever we’re facing in that moment. God’s gifts are like that, but the simplistic nature causes us to skip over them, reaching for the more complicated answers, or simply adding complications to make something complex, when it could be rather simple. It’s kind of like needing a committee to decide which brand of coffee to serve in the break room. Yes, we need to be reminded, and often, that to stop and consider, to simply slow down and breathe, is the thing to do.
Think about the opening lines of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1–3, NIV) Note that the restoring doesn’t occur until after the lying down and the quiet waters, the stopping and listening. Anyone who has engaged in a long race or contest knows, to finish, there must be pacing. Take it too fast at the beginning and you won’t make it to the end. Pacing in life is God-encouraged and Spirit-driven. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26, NIV) And also, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8, NIV) I just can’t see that happening in a hurried frenzy.
As someone who has a tendency to rush, who is usually running just a little bit behind, and who balances a few too many entrees on my proverbial plate, this is challenging. It doesn’t help that a performance driven culture feeds my need to look for “more” and keep a full schedule of tasks to squeeze into the same number of hours we’re given every day. Retirement has taught me how much I love slowing down, but it somehow feels wrong, so I fight it. I am learning to embrace slow and relish stop. I encourage you, regardless of your stage of life, to do the same. It is life-altering no matter what you face in your day. Find a pocket of time to stop. Pray. Talk to a person about their life. Watch something real (not on a screen) that gives you pleasure. Take the time to pace yourself, keeping things in proper perspective. Breathe long deep breaths. It’s worth it because it gives your life a quality over quantity, a God-given quality. As a friend used to say, “take a bubble bath.” Go slow and enjoy. Have a great day!