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Love is Slow


As I am writing, I am looking across breathtaking plains on a cool morning in South Africa where our missions team has had the joy to minister for almost a week and a half now. The sun beams across red clay paths and a seemingly endless landscape of trees that go on for miles. In front of me, I see the smoke rising from the bathhouse where they actually heat the water for their showers by fire, every day. Yesterday, a small herd of roan antelope took a leisurely graze no more than 30 yards from us. This morning, all is quiet as birds sing and peace abounds. Everything seems to move in an effortless slow dance that, at every turn, announces that God is good.


Over the past months, I have felt the Lord gently leading my heart deeper into “increasing levels of glory” which He promises for every child His Spirit indwells. And I feel I am finally getting the first words for where this specific nudging is headed. Simply put, it is this:


The Gospel is simple and love is slow


The Gospel is Simple:


For many centuries leading up to the time of Christ, God fearing men, women, and children held a code of 613 laws they’d derived from the Old Testament of everything a “good” worshiper must do in order to live a life pleasing to God. A full 365 of those laws were things they needed to NOT do. (Imagine that for a daily calendar of affirmations!) For them, life was busy and the days were demanding. Imagination, delight, and wonder found themselves pushed to the side in favor of the endless list of requirements they envisioned their God held over their head. And then Jesus came to town. 


Being asked what the GREATEST commandment was, Jesus replied: 


“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40


The “Law and the Prophets” referred to the entirety of Scripture they held at that time. Get this. To a people exhausted by endless demands and tedious “to do’s,” Jesus unraveled it all, stating that the Gospel is SIMPLE: 


Experience God’s love for you. 

Return the gaze. 

From the overflow of the never ending fount of this delight, love your literal neighbor as yourself. 


That’s it. And when you look at it, it is really just ONE law that unveils itself three ways. This is why the authors of the New Testament often simply referred to it as the “Law of Love.” The Gospel is only ever experienced or shared in the receiving and releasing of LOVE. And love must be slow. 


Love is Slow


The Bible quite literally says that love is “slow to anger,” meaning that the decision to love someone is a long road of patience that continues to extend compassion and grace in places where frustration, anger, or even resentment could be anticipated. But I am becoming convinced that love is also “slow in pace.”


As I have been here, we have spent our time with a total of nearly sixty missionaries, students, and missionaries-in-training, and I have been repeatedly surprised at the radically different decisions my hosts have made in how they spend their time as compared to my own pace in my hometown. They aren’t ever in a hurry. They sit and drink coffee and tea…a lot. Conversation goes far deeper than a means to an end. Indeed, their time at the table together is itself the end in which God reveals His glory among His people. 


After arriving in South Africa, God gave me one word to center all of our team’s work upon: “Relationship.” Build relationship. Invite them into deeper relationship with their Father. Keep a tender heart to the further relationship you will continue with these precious souls when your body is back on the other side of the world. The call has been simple: surrender to the moment. Be fully present in the present. There is nothing to hurry or run off to accomplish. All you need will be found in relationship


I have breathed in slow times of study, prayer, worship, and reflection. I have been faithful to prepare every word God has given me, but have then simply trusted Him to meet me in the moment with the words to pray and actions to follow, if only I’d breathe and be present. 


And God has done what He always does. He has astounded me. Our team has seen God grant deep restoration to many, reawaken buried callings, release encouragement to the weary, cast shame off of sons and daughters, and carry the wonder of the Father’s adoration to a people so very hungry for more of Him! There have been SO many miracle moments that are impossible to explain apart from the tangible presence of our God. I will glory in these past days for the rest of eternity. And ALL of it has happened as we’ve moved slowly.


In a world obsessed with instant everything, love is a seed that gradually grows to bear fruit. In a world drowning in cookie cutter generalities, love emerges as an artisanal gift, hand-crafted over time by cultivating deep and intentional roots. And we simply cannot do this if we are always running to secure our worth or to “make our mark" in a million other endeavors. 


I am stepping up as the first to confess that, in my love for Jesus, I have all too often adopted the pace of Martha: rushing to clean, to fix, to help, and to “do,” when all the while, Jesus simply calls me to sit at His feet and hang on every word He has to say. Many years ago, I scurried to secure my worth as God’s kid. Now, I am coming to see that in the years since breathing deeply in His delight, I’ve often run myself ragged in the well meaning desire to be His kingdom partner. I burn and yearn for His Kingdom to come on earth, and I am moved by the fields that are ripe for harvest. But here’s the problem: Jesus is already the Savior of the world. HE is making all things new. The only thing He requires from me is obedient LOVE…and love is slow. Love has to “sit and stay.” Love must remain simple: 


God adores you. He invites you to return the gaze. Go share it with the world. 


As I plan my return in just a few days, I don’t know the totality of changes God will hold in store for how I steward my time, what commitments I will say “yes” or “no” to, or the billions of other “what about…?” questions that would desire to arise. And you know what? I’m not worried about it. I’m simply choosing to be present in this moment before Him and before those He places in my path, trusting HIM to be sufficient. I walk with open hands and am breathing fresh air in my lungs. And I suspect that, in this posture, the Kingdom will continue to have no problem revealing itself. Who’s ready to join me in walking a slow road of love?

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