Alan Fadling, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest. Downer’s Grove: IVP Press, 2013. 198 pages.
As soon as I saw this book title, I knew I had to add it to my “to do” list. As a recovering Type A, Obsessive/compulsive, workaholic, I felt obligated to at least read about slowing down. True to its title, the book challenged me to examine the pace, attitude, and focus I use as I enter each day.
Alan Fadling is the Executive Director of the Leadership Institute in Orange, California. In this book, he highlights one central idea that is well worth the read. That is that most people, and most Christian leaders, are too hurried to notice and enjoy all that God has made available to them. He observes: “There is little incentive out there to slow down. And the pace in the church doesn’t seem all that different from the pace in the world around us” (7).
Fadling cites John Ortberg who claimed: “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart” (8). Fadling points out some interesting truths from Scripture. For example, after Jesus waited 30 years to begin his public ministry, the first thing he did was spend 40 days in a wilderness (9). He makes an interesting point that God created mankind on the sixth day. On the seventh day God rested. That means that chronologically, the first thing God scheduled for people was rest!
Fadling points out that “Hurry is a way of life in which advertisers have been mentoring us for years” (11). He also points out that “boredom is a modern phenomenon” (11). He challenges; “Is my life different enough to provoke or inspire others to change their way of life?” (31). Fadling points out that people generally hurry because they worry they do not have enough time to accomplish everything they need to do. However, he questions whether everything we feel pressured to accomplish has actually come from God. He suggests that Jesus never hurried, but rather walked through life. He notes; “Being unhurried does not at all mean being unresponsive to divine nudges. Being unhurried enables us to notice those nudges and respond” (39).
Fadling challenges that people who are always in a hurry actually accomplish less matters of significance than those who walk in sync with the Spirit. He confesses: “So much of my overwork is many stages removed from directly blessing people” (46). He asks: “Do we believe numeric success is reason enough to disregard the lack of deep, spiritual fruit in our lives?” (51). He asks: “Why do I rush through this world as though it were an all-you-can-eat buffet right before the restaurant closes and the serving trays are almost empty?” (71). Good question!
Fadling quotes Henri Nouwen who confessed: “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered the interruptions were my work” (85). He makes the great point that: “We are not making things happen. We’re receiving whatever happening God wants to bring our way” (86). Fadling, quite naturally, has an extended discussion on the Sabbath. Certainly this is a concept that many harried Christians have never studied or incorporated into their schedules the way God intended! He notes that the Sabbath “. . . liberates us from the need to be finished” (122).
Fadling also discusses “unexplained dryness” in our lives. He gives a great analogy of a lake that was drained in order to make necessary repairs on it. He asks, “Is it possible that the dryness that God allows in my life somehow drains the hydration level so I can see more clearly what needs to be repaired, make those repairs and clean out the junk that has settled to the bottom?” (134).
Fadling makes many great points about slowing down so we can recognize what is important in our life. He confesses; “Yes, I can be so short sighted. I know what feels good to me, and I forget what is truly and deeply good” (134).
This is a book that has several interesting insights, yet fundamentally makes one point. But it is an important point and one that we harried Christians need to be repeatedly reminded of. We are a stressed, rushed, distracted people and as a result, we often rush right past God in our hurry. This book reminded me of some very important truths that I have known in the past, but had been in too much of a hurry to take to heart. I recommend it!
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