Unhurried: Living with the Long View

Hurry corrodes all that is best in life.

Gratitude. Calm. Attentiveness. Joy. Love. Hurry eats them like acid. They steadily wither beneath anxious, relentless motion.

“Hurry,” observed Dallas Willard, “is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day.”

I disagreed when I first read that. It seemed simplistic, leaving out so many important factors. But the more I observe life today, including the churnings of my own heart, I suspect it is true. I simply cannot live the life God intends when dominated by hurry. And I confess: often I am. Dressing and driving, emails and calls, home repairs and online tasks, even my prayers – all so easily take on the pell-mell motion of hurry.

This is not good. But a clear diagnosis is always a gift, for it tells us – at least hints – that there may be a cure.

* * *

Can you see Jesus there, His robe hiked up above his knees, wading out of the Sea of Galilee? His almond eyes sparkle over sunburnt cheeks. He and the disciples have crossed by boat from the lake’s far side. Peter and Andrew hold the stern steady as the others climb out and splash ashore.

People are waiting. Within moments the crowd swarms. “They almost crushed him,” Luke later described. Noise. Sweat. Body odor. Tumult. Everyone wants a piece of Jesus, at least a glimpse.

Somehow, a well-dressed man elbows his way through, shouting to be heard. “Jesus! My daughter is dying! Will you come?”

So many needs. Such urgency. Isn’t that how our lives often feel, too?

Jesus sets off with the father. The whole crowd is in motion, like an avalanche over the countryside. It’s a kaleidoscope. A circus. Then, suddenly, in the midst of it all, Jesus stops. He stands still.

“Who touched me?” he asks.

Those in earshot laugh. “Everyone touched you,” some might have snickered under their breath.

But Jesus holds, cool and definitive. “I know someone touched me,” he says, “because power went out from me.”

As we learn later, a marvelous healing had already occurred. The very moment a woman’s desperate fingers brushed Jesus’ robe, health spilled into her. She received the physical repair she thought she’d come for.

But Jesus knew better. She needed something more, deeper. So he waited, standing there beside a desperate father in the middle of a restless crowd.

Finally, a lone woman tumbled out before Jesus, ringed by onlookers. Her eyes are wide. His are gentle and calming; they invite. So she begins to tell, haltingly at first, then gaining steam, detail by detail. A disease made her menstruate nearly nonstop for a dozen years. The blood loss sapped her strength. Doctors sapped her money. Social exclusion sapped her joy. In desperation, she’d plunged into that crowd, jammed herself forward, reached toward Jesus and brushed the hem of his garment. As Mark described, she “told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).

Only after she shared all of this would Jesus say tenderly, “Daughter, go in peace, your faith has made you well.” Only then did he set off again toward the next urgent need.

* * *

Our lives carry urgency, too. We feel it, keenly. So many tasks, responsibilities, and expectations. They press in close, a restless and insistent crowd.

As people who care deeply about the world’s hurt, we feel it all the more. So many precious children adrift in the foster system. Broken families, tangled in destructive cycles. Orphaned girls and boys who wake in the night with no one to dry their tears. Fresh needs rise every day. Our own efforts feel so small and incomplete.

The urgency of it all can be crushing.

Our only hope, we imagine, is speed. We need to do more! We need to do it faster! Unceasing activity. Faster churn. Greater efficiency at every task.

In a word, hurry.

* * *

Jesus faced all that we face and more. He poured himself out daily, sometimes to exhaustion. Jesus lived relentlessly on mission.

Yet Jesus showed none of that white-knuckled urgency that often marks ministry today. He remained not just poised, but utterly present in every situation. He gave himself entirely to the person before him, eyes and ears and heart.

In a word, Jesus lived unhurried. Giving, laboring, serving, healing, caring, praying, sacrificing, listening, challenging, rebuking, encouraging… and so much more. But never hurried.

It was the opposite of the duck-on-water image that people often use to describe themselves: calm above the surface but frantically paddling beneath. On the surface, Jesus could be explosively active. Beneath all was utter calm.

Such a way of living can’t be held by willpower alone. The current of our day is far too strong. It will sweep away the best of our anti-hurry resolutions.

An unhurried life grows only from a certain way of seeing – a very different sense of time and of God’s work in it.

An unhurried life grows only from a certain way of seeing – a very different sense of time and of God’s work in it. All that Jesus said and did reveal this way of seeing. One could call it, the long view: a field of vision that includes not just hours or days or even years, but decades… and, ultimately, God’s eternity.

This long view notices the path before us, but never loses sight of the horizon. It feels urgency, but always right-sizes that urgency within a larger picture. It gives the greatest weight not to what is most pressing but to what will matter most in the end.

Like Jesus, the long view is less concerned about immediate results than the slow growth of God’s kingdom… less focused on sweeping change than the transformation of a single human heart… less interested in what we or others accomplish than in what we are becoming.

And yet, counter-intuitively, living with this long view will ultimately yield far more compelling results than hurry ever could.

And yet, counter-intuitively, living with this long view will ultimately yield far more compelling results than hurry ever could.

Day by day, our own experience of life will change. We become lighter and freer, too, liberated from the anxious and relentless motion of hurry.

Like Jesus, we:

  • Work hard… but are able to rest.
  • Are externally active… but internally calm.
  • Prize time with others… but take time alone with God first.
  • Care deeply about human suffering and pour out in faithful service… but do not feel impelled to address all needs, all at once.
  • May engage large crowds… but focus especially on a few people or just one.

This, my friends, is the natural fruit of living with the long view, rooted deep in Christ.

I want to personally invite you to join us at the CAFO2023 Summit to grow in these things side-by-side. Together, we’ll worship the God who holds our days, years, and eternity in His able hands. We’ll relish sweet fellowship with friends new and old. We’ll learn how to carry out our calling with greater knowledge and skill and wisdom – from foster care and adoption to care for vulnerable children and families worldwide.

And amidst a world of anxious motion and urgent needs, we’ll grow together in all that it means to live, love, and serve with the long view always before us.