By Kathy Woods
Upon entering into this new year and new decade, I found myself ruminating in thought and reflection. Where have I been in my relationship with Christ these past 10 years? Where would God have me go from here, for this next decade? What does he have for me personally? What does He have for me as part of this Wellspring community? What does He have for our children’s ministry? These big questions begged me to press pause. This called me to sit quietly before God and His word …to listen. Pressing pause and listening, is something I love to do…yet even for me, the distractions that pull me in all sorts of other directions are endless. It’s a battle to set other things aside and to sit with God to listen and receive. Regardless of temperament, I urge each of us to create space to ponder and imagine what God might have for us in 2020.
The most important thing we can focus on in 2020 is to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. It really is always that simple. I want to be ‘one’ with Him. I want to align myself with Him, don’t you, too? I want my heart to grow in its capacity to love as Jesus loves. I want to align myself with God’s view of my sins. How can I move closer to Him? Will I have His compassion for the neighbors He brings my way? Will I sit with Jesus long enough each day to receive His words of love into my soul? Will I be filled up with Jesus’ Spirit, so that I can become a stream of living water to those around me? It’s an incredibly beautiful gift to live from this place. It’s a counter-cultural gift to all those around us. It’s a counter-cultural practice. It’s not something to check-off our to-do lists. It’s slowing down to be with Jesus …and He misses that time with us when our conversations get cut short. Love grows cold when we pass up these opportunities to be with Jesus and to receive from Him.
Matthew 24:12 tells us…the love of most will grow cold…in the last days. This happens when we are hurried and distracted by everything that is always all around us! Do you see it? Do you feel it? How does hurry have you feeling?
It’s no surprise that as Christ-followers, we are asked to slow down from the hurry; to slow down and listen. Many of you have heard this call to slow down and press pause over and over again, these past ten years. Have you heeded the call? Have I? Have we slowed down?
But…as I was slowing down and listening to God today, a new question popped into my head. Is there ever a time to hurry up instead of slow down? Are we ever called to hurry?
Yes! Yes, I believe there is. We see it in the Christmas story. After the angel Gabriel visited Mary telling her that she would give birth to ‘the Son of the Most High” she hurried to Elizabeth’s home where she was encouraged by the unborn John the Baptist.
Luke 1: 39-41. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Mary was so touched by Elizabeth and John’s response…she broke out in singing the Magnificat!
The shepherds also hurried. After they saw and heard the chorus of angels singing glory to God in the highest…they hurried to the manger. They couldn’t wait to see the Savior, who was born in the city of David!
Luke 2:16 “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”
The shepherds returned, spreading the word of what they had seen. They were singing and praising God, and all were amazed at what the shepherds shared with them.
And in the Easter story, how did the women respond after hearing the angels and seeing the empty tomb? They hurried to tell their brothers what they had seen!
Matthew 28:8 “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”
This was the first bold move in church planting! These women hurried along the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
There you have it! Sometimes when Jesus shows us something or tells us something, we are to move quickly…to hurry forward. Personally, this one is super hard for me with my temperament. I can easily enter into a debate with God. Do you really want me to do this? You want me to do it right now? I had other things on my list! Is this the best option here? Isn’t someone else better qualified to go? I easily debate and overthink…and miss opportunities. Regardless of temperament, sometimes we do need to hurry and act quickly! When something startles us, when God shows us something new, when God opens our eyes, awakens our minds, or puts something on our hearts…will we move quickly?
On Christmas Eve, I was a firsthand witness to someone who moved quickly! Someone hurried over to greet my son with the biggest bear hug ever! It was my son’s first time here. This woman hurried over to warmly greet him and nothing got in her way! As a mom, I cherish that quick and lavishly loving move with all my heart. I received it as God the Father reaching out to my son with immense compassion, joy and welcome!
Yes, there is a time to slow down and there are times to hurry. I hope this gives you some food for thought as you begin 2020. But before I wrap this up, may I muse you a bit longer on this Monday morning with how I see this impacting children’s ministry at Wellspring?
In children’s ministry, as wiggly as these little ones can be, I want to always give time for children to slow down and be quiet before God. I long for our children to encounter Jesus, to be able to listen to the Holy Spirit and to learn to discern His voice. We need our children to press pause, to slow down each week when they come to worship. This is one of my strongest convictions as children’s director.
In children’s ministry, I also want to learn from children on how to act quickly. They easily go forth with joy to share with others what they have experienced or freely give hugs or fist bumps! I loved seeing one little girl quickly bring down her dad to show him the shoebox house she created in December. She was so excited! And her dad just infused more love into her soul as he gleefully listened and looked at her work!
As I hear about children on the news, as I see children at Lincoln school, as I minister with children at Wellspring, may I be alert to what God is showing me. Am I moving slow enough to see, to listen, to observe, to feel, to hear God’s voice regarding this child or that situation? And as I hear about the needs of children, the situations of children that startle me or tug at my heart…will I be quick and hurry to do as God directs?
In 2020, where do we need to slow down to see, listen, feel and receive? How will we carve out this margin of time to attune ourselves to the Spirit’s voice? And where do we need to move quickly and hurry… to be that voice for God’s kingdom, to be that visitor for the prisoner, to be that advocate for the immigrant, to be that hug for the young adult, to be that tutor for that child, to be that minister to that hurting soul! May we slow down and hurry, as our Savior leads.