In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites us to regulate our pace of life so that God has the opportunity to refresh us and draw us into an effective partnership with Him. For, we were created to be in relationship with Him, and this is the only way we can be fruitful (John 15:4).

As I read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, one of his statements leapt out at me, and I just had to write it down: If you want to experience the life of Jesus you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.” What does the pastor mean by that? I really don’t fancy wearing sandals and eating olives, and my wife will tell you that I’m definitely not one to go on long walks. 

There’s a lot to be said about imitating others in a bid to achieve the same results. This is no doubt why people scour the best business biographies, trying to copy what successful businessmen and women did in order to achieve the same success. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1NIV). 

But, even as followers of Jesus, we can try to imitate some of His practices but never really adopt His lifestyle. We may pray the Lord’s prayer exactly as He taught us, be steadfast in spiritual disciplines, but still never come close to His lifestyle. What are we missing? I believe we need to build into our lives margin to just be’ – you know, be the Mary at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38 – 42). 

So much has been said on the busyness of life today and our inability to be still, in the moment. Our culture pushes us towards a life of busyness, to the extent that we celebrate how busy we are. Think how common these conversations are: Q. How’s business?” A. Oh, really busy.” Q. How are you?” A. I’m so busy!” We exalt busyness as if a slower pace, or fewer things to do, indicates that we’re unsuccessful or not making progress. As I say, so many aspects of our culture seem to push us towards busyness.

But there is this pull, a pull we tend to ignore: Get away with me and I will recover your life.” Even if we know it, it’s a discipline many of us, me included, need to master. Yet we don’t prioritise this. We tend to think we will get away’ when life gets too much. We go on holiday when we really need a break’. We even go on church encounter weekends away, which have always been great from my experience, but they can sometimes feel like we are making up for the resting in God we could have been doing before. Or perhaps we work ourselves to our limit, only then finding out what our limit is. 

This lockdown has allowed many to slow down. But it’s almost like it’s been a forced hard reset after our phone screen has frozen from too many apps opened at once, rather than a simple regular recharge of our battery. There’s so much that can be said on the benefits of regular rest, time to just be; but I want to specifically encourage you to regularly charge your spiritual battery by slowing right down the pace of your life. 

That doesn’t mean being lazy or being in a constant state of waiting for a word from God before you move. I mean adopting the lifestyle of Jesus. He was never in a hurry, but He was never late. He was constantly being interrupted, but He spent quality time with those around Him. He observed the Sabbath, but He still ministered to people when the need arose. He ate a meal how it was designed to be eaten, at a steady pace and sprinkled with deep conversation. 

Granted, there were no mobile phones or social media in His day, but that leads me to my conclusion. If Jesus were walking on the earth today, He would still have a healthy margin of rest built into His life. Whatever level of pandemonium going on around Him, He would still find time to be still and be in maximum communion with His Father. 

We often feed ourselves excuses as to why we live our lives at 100mph: It’s the age we live in”, modern ministries need modern lifestyles”, or even, life is short, we need to make the most of our time.” Life is indeed short, which is why we need to slow down – slow down to know and love God deeply, slow down to know and love people fully. 

Filling our time with unnecessary pursuits is like Parkinson’s law. C. Northcote Parkinson was a 20th century scholar who suggested that people usually take all the time allocated to accomplish any task. If only we had another few hours in a day, right? Well, we’d likely spend those extra few hours in similar patterns to how we spend the time we do have.

In these strange times, and as lockdown begins to ease, we are on the verge of cooking up our new normal’. Let us be the deciders of what goes into that recipe; and can I suggest that one of those ingredients we throw in is some margin to slow ourselves down? It might well become the new busy, you know.

The Evangelical Alliance has teamed up with St Andrews Bookshop to offer four books, including John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, for £20. This is a great book, so I encourage you to find out more about this exclusive promotion.

There’s so much that can be said on the benefits of regular rest, time to just be.