I have two teenagers. A couple of years ago, I taught my daughter to drive. I’m in the process of teaching my son how to drive. This is a major endeavor for a parent because the responsibility of driving is great, and the consequences of mistakes can be so costly.
There are many things to highlight when teaching someone to operate a motor vehicle. How to get going. Adjustments that need to be made. Keys to safely getting from point A to point B. Keys, mirrors, lights, seatbelts, accelerator and brakes.
I would suggest that one of the most important lessons to be taught to a new driver is how to stop.
You don’t get where you are going safely if you don’t establish a good pattern of stopping. You will run red lights and stop signs. You won’t have caution for people or obstacles in the road. You won’t properly moderate your speed.
The consequences could be valuable resources wasted for a ticket, destruction of property or, even worse, the loss of health or even death to yourself or another person.
A new driver must learn to stop.
My observation is that life and ministry aren’t much different. One of the most valuable lessons to be learned is how to stop.
As someone who has served Christ in the urban context for over 20 years on the west side of Chicago, I wish someone had emphasized to me at the beginning how important stopping is. We all need to learn to develop a good rhythm of stopping.
Many of you are like me. You are in awe of the indescribable gift that has been given you. You are so thankful that God offers amazing grace that saves the wretch. You have tasted and seen how deep the Father’s love is. And so you want to go tell it on the mountaintop, or at least on the block.
We have much exhortation and inspiration to go. Lecrae reminded us so clearly of the impact of “Beautiful Feet”. Thi’sl inspires us with the example that we could all be an “Urban Missionary”. There are many resources and examples of how to go, make disciples and have impact in an urban context.
But many of us don’t know how to stop well. Very few of us are even being encouraged to stop.
Let me tell you this: Just like in driving a car, if you don’t learn how to stop, then you risk not only the loss of valuable relationships (i.e. marriage), but you may cause destruction to the temple that God asked you to steward.
Stopping is not an option. It is required.
A few thoughts to consider on this:
- Have you ever seriously considered why God finished creation in six days and rested on the seventh? What are implications of this pattern?
- Have you thought about why the fourth commandment was included in the 10? Was it to remind us to go to church? Or is there something much greater in this command?
- Have you ever taught on the Shmita (Sabbath Year)? Have you seriously considered the meaning of Leviticus 25 or Exodus 23 or Deuteronomy 15? If even the land has limits, don’t you think that we as humans have limits?
- What if Sabbath is about acknowledging that we are limited? What if stopping is an acknowledgement that God can accomplish his will and purposes even when we are resting? What if stopping is about knowing who we really are and who God really is?
- What if not stopping actually causes more harm to relationships and the church then it does benefit?
- What if being unwilling to stop is actually a boast against the sovereignty of God?
We live in a society that values busyness. The urban context is so fast-paced, and there are always more problems to be solved than there is time in the week.
We have not time to stop. We know little of being still. We don’t know how to wait.
And yet God comes to us and says:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)
“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31)
“Wait for the Lord.” (Ps. 27:14)
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” (Ex. 20:9)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
I thank God that His still small voice is calling me to find what it looks like to stop. I’m not there yet. But I am beginning to develop a rhythm.
My hope is that it won’t be long until when asked the questions “how have you been?” that I will no longer give answers like “super busy” or “really tired,” but instead will be able to say “delighting in the the Lord’s goodness” or “resting in the promises of God.”
How about you? Have you learned to stop or are you driving through the road of life with all kinds of collateral damage because you haven’t learned to pump the brakes? When are you going to be still this week?