As a child, I was a slow companion on walks. At each driveway, or section of landscaping, or really wherever seemed right, I crouched down to carefully select the perfect rock. I picked up these treasures all along the journey until my little hands and pockets were full.
I can imagine how tedious that process could have been for a long-legged adult with a schedule and destination in mind.
Months ago I attended a small, intensive women’s retreat. I entered the weekend excited to process things on my mind with the Lord. I had questions I hoped He would answer, and was craving new insight. My hopes combined with my history as a straight-A, rule-following, good girl created pressure. I found myself trying hard that weekend, striving to find answers – to “reach my destination”.
During one prayer time, our leader prompted us to recall a time when we felt close to God. Immediately, my mind sprinted down memory lane like an Olympic hurdler – scrambling over memories at breakneck speed to find the right one on which to focus my prayer time.
If you’ve ever ransacked your bedroom in frantic search of that one article of clothing to wear to the event-to-which-you-are-already-late, then you know the feeling.
But this was a prayer. There was no right answer, and the hectic mental search kept me from being fully present. I took a breath and asked the Lord to lead. As my mental pace slowed, remembering became less like a race and more like paging through a photo album with a loved one.
It was as though Jesus took my hand and we strolled down my storyline. We paused at the familiar landmarks of certain memories, and I saw His faithfulness and presence woven throughout. My memories were markers on the path that Jesus and I had been walking together all these year. He recalled to me how, as a child, I couldn’t be rushed to a destination because I stopped for the markings of the journey. And I realized that, somewhere along the way, I learned to walk faster on my spiritual journey, ignoring the rocks, to get where I was going.
I’d become the long-legged adult with a schedule to keep and places to be… and now Jesus was inviting me to stroll with Him.
As on the retreat, sometimes my prayer times become all about getting something from God, or looking for the right things to do for Him. I crave answers. My time with Him becomes rushed, and I feel stressed at the thought of pausing to listen because sometimes the still, small voice is also so very slow. I become impatient to know what He has for me or wants from me. We’ve got places to go, Jesus, so please keep up.
But God has never been in a hurry. He exists aside from time! What if His offered hand of relationship is also an invitation to the beautiful slow work? What if it’s an invitation to linger and savor and delight and remember? What if the slowing is actually about trusting?
Peter’s words show our gracious God who waits, longing for all to accept His invitation to salvation. They’re also a beautiful reminder to let Him set our pace.
So I’m learning to slow and listen and remember. I’m re-learning that as long as I’m with Him I’ve reached my destination, and that what He really wants is me. In the Old Testament, the Israelites stacked rocks to mark the places where they’d seen God move. They were called ebenezers, “stones of help”. On my walk with Jesus through this life, I can trust Him to lovingly and carefully select the perfect events, bitter or sweet, to become the ebenezers that tell His story through mine.
I’m learning to pick up rocks with Jesus.
Kirsten Weatherly has served on the Austin Oaks Church youth ministry team since 2012. She was born in San Antonio, and raised north of Atlanta in Acworth, Georgia. Her ministry to students began in high school and has continued in a variety of places and capacities since. Kirsten attended the University of Georgia, where she earned degrees in Journalism and Child and Family Development. She loves to spend her time reading, dancing, and being with friends and family. Kirsten will almost never turn down BBQ from Rudy’s, lattes from Summermoon Coffee, or really any meal with friends.