Slow Down, Savor Him
Hello Lighthouse Family!! Wow, it is such a privilege to call you family. I am grateful for your exemplary faithfulness and endurance in this season, and I am in awe by the ways Christ’s glory continues to be magnified so clearly and consistently through this body of believers. It is humbling to see God’s grace at work within the church as a whole, and I really wish I could eventually hear each individual’s story of grace in this season! Thank you for this special opportunity for me to share about how God has continued His work of grace in my own life. I pray that my words would be beneficial to you and bring God glory!
As much as life has seemed to slow down for me in recent months, in many ways I have felt busier than ever before. Though today my body isn’t up and moving nearly as much as it was while I was still on campus at UCLA going from class to class and meeting to meeting, I’ve been letting my mind work overtime under the pressure of new responsibilities that I am stewarding. New ministry roles and work responsibilities in the context of changing circumstances have brought about many new things for me to think through. As a sinner I tend to make these processes more difficult for myself by thinking through them according to my own wisdom, rather than in light of the pure and perfect wisdom from above. I restrict myself to the “go, go, go” type of agenda that I’ve gotten so used to as a college student, and find it harder to simply rest and be still in the Lord’s presence. I am so eager to finish the tasks that I have been given and reap the results that I expect and that I think others expect, and soon I forget why I’m here, how I got here, why I’m doing all of these things, and Who it is that I’m fully dependent upon for breath and life itself.
An underlying issue is that I haven’t been consistently taking care of myself well or allowing the Gospel and God’s grace to influence every aspect of my life. I have not been entering each workday, each ministry meeting, or even each morning itself, with the mindset that I need His grace to sustain me in all of it. Instead, I have hastily flung myself at life’s happenings without proper thought and submission to God’s authority and presence in my life. My focus has been on perfection and efficiency that will cater well towards a watching world. Because of this, there have been more instances recently of me seeing ministry, work, and relational interactions as obligations more than joys and privileges from God. The challenges of community-building and ministry planning online have led me, in my self-centeredness, to make ministry and work more about myself and my own comforts, rather than on others and their well-being in Christ.
The results of my self-reliance and apathy towards responsibilities, to their extreme, began to look like this: Work became an 8-hour chunk of time to get through so I could move on and think about the evening’s activities consisting of ministry meetings or calls with friends. Ministry planning became making a checklist of to-do’s so that our on-campus fellowship at UCLA could maintain its members and uphold a good reputation. Ministry meetings and meetups became what was next to overcome before I could finally settle into bed and rest after a long day of work. Sleep was necessary for me to be ready for the next 8-hour timeblock of work the following day. Return to step one, and repeat.
So then, I would often ask myself, what makes me so different from a non-Christian who can seemingly handle just as much as, if not more than, what’s on my plate? Not often enough do I think about my internship as an opportunity to gain clarity on how God wants me to use my gifts and experiences for Him in my future career, nor do I frequently see my chances to work on-site as a perfect setting for evangelism to my co-workers, who are diligently serving themselves and the world rather than the God who saves and promises much more beyond what we can see in this life. Not often enough do I see my ministry role as an opportunity to sacrificially love, serve, and guide other brothers and sisters in better, Christ-centered ways, so that they might also be more effective for Gospel-ministry within their homes and among their social circles. Not often enough do I see sleep and rest as necessary simply because my human body is finite, limited, and not at all fit to fill the role that God plays in my life as author and caretaker of all time. Not often enough do I think about how He chose to regard me in my rebellious and lowly estate and saved me, and only at the cost of His perfect and spotless Son’s death and resurrection.
It is by God’s grace that despite me, He continues to carry out His work in the communities I’m involved in and in my own life as well. I have been blessed to witness other brothers and sisters zealously pursue Christ in ministry, personal relationships, work, and school. I am being reminded more and more that along with not being able to live this Christian life without the Gospel, His Word, and the Holy Spirit at work in us, we cannot live the Christian life without fellow siblings in Christ to bear burdens with, make mistakes with, lean on grace with, and worship God with. In this season I am continuing to learn the importance of slowing down, waiting upon the Lord’s timing in all things, and depending on His grace to sustain me because it is sufficient for me in my sin and weaknesses. I am learning to pursue a life that is above reproach, and to put off chaotic, convoluted, and busy thoughts, and instead fill my mind with Scripture to guide my next breath and next steps. I am learning to build better habits for the marathon of this Christian life, because this race is not a sprint; there is no point in striving for efficiency or curtailing my time with the Lord if it will be at the expense of me knowing God intimately and in more profound ways. My hope is that you may also continue learning the necessity of slowing down and savoring Him, resting in the hope of the Gospel and everything that God promises for us in His Word, through Christ. Because only then, does everything else in life become sweeter, more fulfilling, and more about our gracious God in heaven.
“ Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!” Psalm 119:33-40