The Diligent Intentionality of Slow Feet

I had coffee with a dear friend a couple of days ago and we shared about our walks with the Lord. We both discussed specific areas where we wanted to see growth, especially in recognizing His presence through the day and in being more attentive to the Holy Spirit’s nudges. Jan Johnson in Abundant Simplicity says, “Simplicity with time requires the diligent intentionality of creating enough space that I may say yes to God about treasuring God and loving people.”

Just before meeting my friend I had to stop at my church. This was an extra trip made necessary because I accidentally picked up a plastic bag that I thought was mine and did not realize my mistake until I got home. The extra trip had me agitated, my plan for the day already had too many things to do. On my drive there I told the Lord I was frustrated because it seems no matter how hard I try not to be busy, my time always shrinks because of extra things to do. And then I told Satan that my God is not a God of chaos but One of peace. I spoke out loudly against my busyness.

When I got to church my pastor greeted me and asked me how I was. I told him I was overwhelmed even though my life is quieter. My mind keeps racing with a never-ending list of things to do. He said one word, “focus,” and spoke of the importance of being present to what I am doing in the moment. I left church feeling settled, our conversation brought me back to Johnson’s words regarding the diligent intentionality of creating enough space…”

I have a lot I want to get done, but I can choose how I go about it. I can either race from one thing to another or I can slow down and be present focusing on one thing at a time. I am working at learning to focus at one thing at a time, but am obviously still struggling with it. Focus.

In Abundant Simplicity, Johnson suggests doing a “heart exam” asking yourself, “[what’s] running me?” Such a good question. Often the things that keep me racing through my day feeling overwhelmed and frustrated come down to my need to people please and to earn love. And I have mentioned that I realize I don’t get what I need from these measures, but I seem to be stuck in a habit of living this way. It is a bad habit that I am trying hard to change.

Johnson also suggest checking with the Lord about what He is calling us to do, with the emphasis being on loving Him and letting His love for me overflow to others. This definitely means a change in focus for me. Instead of focusing on my agenda, checking off the items to do, it means a constant checking in with God. How am I living out love in what I am doing? And it is an excellent reminder to help me really abide.

A few years ago I was at a women’s retreat. One afternoon we had a couple of hours of free time, so I decided to take a walk by the beach. There were lots of rock, and I love rocks! I am always trying to find one with special significance for the moment. So as I walked along this rocky path I talked with the Lord about what He wanted me to do, how I should move forward in life living out my mission. I also prayed that He would give me a special rock. I listened as I hunted. He seemed to tell me to have “slow feet.” I wrote this in my little notebook along with other snippets from the Spirit’s lead. I picked up a small rock that satisfied my desire and headed back to the retreat center. As I continued to walk there along the side of the path there was a rock that caught my attention, not because I was hunting but because it was the rock the Lord had for me. It is in the perfect shape of a foot (see featured image). So incredibly amazing is our God!

Proverbs 19:2 says, “One who moves too hurriedly misses the way.” The Lord wants me to have slow feet so that I don’t miss the way. He wants me to walk with diligent intentionality. I have circled back to those words “slow feet” often in the past few years. But it seems I always get caught up in the hurry of life. This time I am choosing diligent intentionality for the longterm future. It will definitely take focus!

Johnson suggests the importance of having margin in our days. She uses the example of Jesus. Jesus was constantly interrupted, and He allowed those interruptions to become times of blessing others. He made Himself available to the needs of others. He didn’t grumble that He had too much to do when someone begged to be healed or asked Him to meet a different need.

Johnson suggests that we need margin in our days. Time to breathe in between activities. Time for reflection and prayer. She says, [a] life of sabbath, pauses, and margin creates a stillness inside us that infuses each thought and conversation.” We need “whitespace” both in our lives and on our calendars. Making this happen may require that we set some boundaries. Johnson defines a boundary as “a practical statement of intentionality.” 

I am realizing, especially in my people pleasing, that I need to set boundaries. First, asking myself why I am saying “yes” to this as I consider it in my mind. Then, also making sure that I do not answer in a hurry, but instead taking time to prayerfully think about it. What will it require of me and my time? What will I have to give up in order to do it?

Just this morning I saw an opportunity online to learn Hebrew, and I thought about how much I would like to do it, I went to the page to sign up and I stopped. What am I doing? I had to remind myself that I cannot do everything. I can’t be in this writing group, and learn how to quilt with this group, and learn Hebrew online and keep adding more and more things. I closed the page that offered the class, and although, I’ll admit, I felt disappointed because it is something I would like to do, I realized cannot do it right now. It was acting on impulse, not walking with slow feet, not walking with diligent intentionality.

I am choosing to recalibrate my life with the diligent intentionality of slow feet. I will be sharing more of this process in future blogs. It is a process that takes time to learn, but I am determined to seek His way.

How about you, how are you being diligently intentional with your time?

 

 

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Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Coin

The parable of the lost coin is found in Luke 15:8-10. Jesus tells this parable to illustrate another facet of God’s grace. Jesus explains that a woman loses a coin in her home. You may think it must be very valuable to matter so much. And it was to her.

I remember,  a few years back,  my diamond fell out of my wedding ring and I didn’t realize that it had happened. I was so upset and frantic to find it once I realized it was missing.  I thought it would be nearly impossible, but I found it in the carpet in our living room. I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was. It turns out that the prongs that were to hold it in had gotten broken somehow.

Commentators explain that the coin the woman lost was really only valued at about 16 cents. But it had real value for a different reason. According to ancient customs, a married woman would take the money she had accumulated through her life and sew it in a headdress that she wore on her wedding day, The coins represented all she had contributed to her marriage. So, when this woman realized that one of the coins had fallen out, she, too, was frantic to find it, just as I was regarding my diamond.

It is suggested by some commentators that the purpose of this parable may be to lead us to consider if we ourselves have someone who is lost in our home. Is there someone going through the motions of religion? Or maybe one who just goes to church or Sunday school, but has not come to know the Lord in a personal way. Or maybe there is someone who adamantly refuses to go to church or even listen to anything about God. These lost people are precious to the Lord, just as they are precious to us.

Jesus wants us to be aware of the lost and to be as diligent in finding them and helping them as the woman was in finding her lost coin. All have great value in the Lord’s eyes. We need to talk with those in our homes and gain a good understanding of where they are at spiritually. 

Transparency and authenticity are important in helping others to see Christ. We need to be real as we talk about the truth of our own sinfulness and be open about seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged as well as confessing our sinfulness to the Lord. We need to share the reality of God’s grace to us as sinners.

Our attitude needs to be one of humility as we share. It is all about Jesus. No one is drawn to the realness of a loving, gracious Savior by a prideful attitude that says “I’m better than you.” Our salvation had nothing to do with what we have done, but is all about what Jesus has done for us, taking our place on the cross.

Sometimes, we come to a place where words only cause arguments, and any situation that brings Jesus to the forefront causes animosity in our loved ones. It is in those cases that prayer becomes even more important. When we feel that all doors of opportunity are shut off to us, we still always have hope in what the Lord might do. So we must pray for the Lord to lead us in wisdom to know when to share and to know how not to be nagging. We need to ask Him to be at work in the heart of our loved one.

We also need the Lord to help us to learn how to demonstrate love and compassion as Jesus did. It can be difficult, and frustration can fill us, but we must hold tight to our hope in Christ. The Lord can work in the hearts in ways that we cannot even imagine. He looks into the depths of our hearts and knows where we are in our relationship with Him. He knows what needs to change within us and what needs to change in the hearts of our loved ones. He is able to take hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Prayer needs to be our lifeline, through the struggle, disappointment, and frustration as we wait for that lost one to be drawn to faith.

The parable of the lost coin shows us a woman who doesn’t give up but is persistent in making the lost to be found. Let’s strive to have our determination match hers. And when that one is found in faith, let’s rejoice with heaven, let’s praise the Lord for His amazing grace to each one of us.