Lenten Devotional: Friday, March 9

by Colleen Pruitt

Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I was late to the game in discovering Barbara Brown Taylor, so I have done what only made perfect sense to me at the time: I began been binge reading her books.  I turned page after page, at great speed, in hopes of devouring her wisdom as quickly as possible.  Imagine my surprise when her very words stopped me dead in my tracks and turned my little world upside down.

In “Leaving Church,” Taylor recounts her journey of faith. She tells the story of a friend coming to visit her after leaving the hustle and bustle of her big church in Atlanta to serve as pastor of a small church in Clarkesville. The friend, unfamiliar with the rural back roads, becomes lost and begins speeding her way through small towns in hopes of finding her way.  No surprise, she gets pulled over by a police officer and immediately apologizes and explains her predicament.  He replies, “Well, I’m sorry about that too ma’am,” while writing her citation, “but what made you think that hurrying would help you find your way?”

Wait, what?  You mean to tell me that hurrying through my life is not getting me where I want to go?  How can this be? I have spent most of my adult life believing that faster meant better.  What do you mean, hurrying is not the way?

You see, somehow along the way, hurrying had become my main mode of transportation. Hurry the kids to school in the morning.  Hurry through my to-do list at work.  Hurry to do the laundry or take out the trash or [insert any other chore here].  Hurry through conversations with loved one (including my spouse, children and dear friends). Hurry us all to church on Sundays. If I am being entirely honest, I had become consumed by the hurry, by the busy.  I am now (slowly) coming to realize that this relentless pursuit to get things done is not the way.  I have been missing so much in pursuit of the hustle.  Not only that, I have been missing what matters most.  For some time, I have been sprinting towards the wrong thing.

The words we have been singing each Sunday during Lent, “Come and rest, Come and listen,” have become my new rally cry. I don’t want to miss any more moments. I want to run patiently in the right direction.  I want to make time to truly listen to God so that I can be the person he has called me to be. How silly and lost I had become to think that God cared about my efficiency and productivity? God cares about my heart, not my check list.

The Bible calls us to “run with endurance.” I have read this passage from Hebrews again and again searching for any mention or reference to speed.  I cannot find any.  How many times have I been told life is a marathon, not a sprint?  When will I start actually believing it? As I read and reread this passage, I am slowly starting to hear what God is trying say to me.  I am to run with endurance while looking to Him.  So during this Lenten season, this is the very thing I am trying to do. To focus my eyes on Jesus — in my hurry, I have missed a great deal of time with him, too — and run my own race with perseverance and patience. I hope this for us all.

Prayer: Dear loving God, please help me to remember to breathe. Please help me to stop and pause.  Please help me to slow down and resist hurry. Please help me to notice and delight in your wonder.  Please help me to focus on my own race and help me gain the endurance to stay the course. Please see my heart and help me to be the person you have called me to me. Amen