First, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, officially declaring the beginning of the Christmas Shopping Season, which is characterized by hurrying. Second, this Sunday is the beginning of the season of Advent, which is characterized by waiting.
On Black Friday people will stand in long lines for low prices. Many will push and shove, unable to wait their turn. By the time the Christmas Shopping Season comes to an end, people will be utterly exhausted.
In contrast, the first Sunday of Advent will be observed as people wait silently, lighting a single candle that represents hope. This is not a season of hurry, leading to exhaustion; this is a season of waiting, leading to renewal.
To help you embrace this season of waiting, during Advent, I HIGHLY encourage you to read An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling.
I’ll tell you about the book in a minute, but first let me tell you about Alan Fadling.
I met Alan several years ago at a crucial time in my life and ministry. He told me that he worked with an organization called The Leadership Institute and they had a program for Christian leaders called The Journey. It helped leaders embrace the rhythms of Jesus in their life in order to avoid, or recover from, burnout in their ministry. At the time I thought, “That’s great they have that program for ‘those’ types of people.” Little did I know that shortly after meeting Alan I would experience some things that suddenly made me one of ‘those’ types of people.
Realizing that I was overstressed and overworked, I remembered meeting Alan and decided to give him a call. Alan listened to me as I described my current state and then asked me a simple question, “When is the last time you spent time alone with Jesus?”
I thought I knew what he meant. “Well all the time. I was alone with Jesus this morning preparing a sermon,” I answered.
He replied, “Not preparing a sermon. Not doing something. When is the last time you were with Jesus doing nothing? Just being with him. Simply resting and allowing him to restore your soul.”
“Uh…well…um…I think…,” I stuttered, looking for an answer, when I knew the answer was, “Never.”
Alan will never truly understand the impact of that one call, though I tell him regularly. Over the next couple of years, Alan would become a companion to me on my journey to re-learn what it meant to follow Jesus. He was the perfect guide for me as I needed to slow down and re-think my approach to life and ministry.
I was so excited when earlier this year Alan’s book, An Unhurried Life, was published by IVP. This book contains more than just Alan’s words–it contains his life and his wisdom, both of which have been tried and tested by countless pastors and ministry leaders who have experienced Alan’s friendship, humility, and grace.
The first three sentences of the book read, “I’m a recovering speed addict–and I don’t mean the drug. I’m talking about the inner pace of my life. I always seemed to be in a hurry.” The book then goes on to examine the life of Jesus and demonstrate that Jesus was anything but hurried. Jesus maintained an inner calm–he was both unhurried and relaxed. The same cannot be said about most of his followers.
Think about it. Jesus calls us to follow him. He does not call us simply to follow his teaching, but to follow him. It is the person of Jesus we are to follow–this means not only what he says to do, but his way of being.
Is it possible, then, that Jesus calls us to an unhurried life?
I’m one of those people who likes to share his friends. When I meet someone, I’m always thinking about who they should meet. The great thing about having friends who write books is that you finally get to share your friends with everyone you know. Alan is one of those friends that I want everyone to know.
God used Alan to change my life in so many ways, but none more important than his teaching me to live an unhurried life. I, like Alan, still struggle to do so every day, but wow does my life look different.
As we enter into this season of Advent, which is meant to be unhurried, I want to encourage you to slow down long enough to read An Unhurried Life. You may find that reading this book slows you down long enough to really begin to live.
* Thanks, Alan! I am eternally grateful for you.