Recently, my husband and I were listening to a Tim Keller sermon. During it, Tim said something that hit me hard: "Honor the pace of God in your life." For those who are reading this, you most likely fall into either one of these two camps. One, you feel like God is moving really slow in your life. There doesn't seem to be many changes. Every day may feel the same, and the things you have been praying for haven't come about yet. Two, you feel like God has given you change after change. You may feel settled for a moment, but then something else shifts again.
In either situation, it is hard to be content in the way God is working. Our hearts are not quick to honor the pace of God. When life feels slow, we can grow bitter toward the Lord, wondering why things haven't changed. When life feels fast, we can grow frustrated toward the Lord, wondering why things keep changing. It is one thing to acknowledge the pace of God, but it is another to honor it. To honor something is to regard it with great respect. But can we honestly say we respect God's pace? We don't usually respect God's pace; we resist it. Instead of trusting His timing, we rebel against it by taking matters into our own hands.
No good comes from trying to set our own pace. We are not sovereign people who are all-knowing and all-wise. Even when we think we know what is best for us, we end up making decisions that turn out to be mistakes and making plans that lead us the wrong way. So what does it look like to honor God's pace?
Acknowledge He is in Control
This is hard for us. We are quick to want to be in control of our own lives. When life feels out of control, we do all that we can to make it orderly again. In the face of the unknown, we must surrender to the sovereignty of the Lord. It is a good thing that our God holds the entire universe in His hands. Can you imagine if He didn't? We may think things feel out of control to us now, but if God did not sovereignly hold all things, our entire world would be in disorder. As we acknowledge that God is in control, we learn to rest in His sovereignty. We can be comforted by knowing that God is in control even when we don't know what He is doing. Not only this but acknowledging God is in control allows us to surrender our strivings. Instead of scrambling around trying to maintain control, we kneel before the Lord and say, "(You are) before all things, and by (You) all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17).
Respect His Timing
To honor God's pace is to respect His timing. This is easier said than done, of course, but it is necessary. We respect God's timing by praising Him in our current circumstances. Instead of growing frustrated in the fast seasons, we must thank Him for how He uses the changes in our lives. Instead of accusing Him of not moving in the slow seasons, we must praise Him for what He is doing that we cannot see. To examine if we are respecting God's timing, we need to examine our hearts. We need to ask ourselves, where is my contentment found right now? Is it in my plans or God's plans? What is causing my heart to be anxious right now? Am I trusting or resisting God's timing?
Trust His Purposes
The orientation of our hearts reveals our trust in the Lord. If our heart is set on our plans, we will be ridden with frustration and anxiety. But if our heart is set on God's plans, we will trust what He is doing and feel at peace. Learning to honor God's pace involves seeing His plans as good. If we truly believe that God works all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28), we will trust His purposes and plans. God's pace does not alter His purpose; His pace reveals His purpose. There is purpose in both the seemingly mundane and the fast-moving moments of life. In either of these situations, God is working to fulfill His perfect purposes. By trusting His purposes we will learn to be content with God's pace. As we surrender our plans to the Lord, we hold out open hands to Him saying, "Not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
In essence, honoring God's pace involves honoring Him. Praising the one who sets the pace moves our hearts to trust God in all things. We can praise God for His pace because our God is sovereign and faithful. His pace is accomplishing His purposes for us, and that is a reason to rejoice.