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Love

God Walks Slowly. Are You Out-Running Him?

Doug Bender

July 28, 2020 | 2 minute read

“God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is ‘slow’ yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love.” - Three Mile an Hour God, Kosuke Koyama

You probably heard them read the last time you went to a wedding. Paul, the author with more books to his name in the Bible than anyone else, wrote his famous description of love with words poetic and beautiful. Couples everywhere choose his words as fitting for their most sacred celebration of love. You could travel in time anywhere in the last two thousand years and still here his words read with wide frequency. (Read the entire passage.)

But it’s the very first line that has caught my attention lately as our whole world has ground to a snail’s pace. Work has gone remote; parties and summer barbeques are out; schools are a giant question mark; and there’s not even a movie out worth mentioning. As an extreme extrovert, these last several months have been trying and soul-searching in more ways than one. My stuffed and overflowing social calendar is now full mostly of Zoom calls and gardening.

Of all the words that Paul could have chosen to begin his treatise on love he begins with this: “Love is patient.”

Why start there? I have wondered this much lately. What makes patience and love so intrinsically tied together that they are the first association that Paul names?

In the midst of this wondering, I thought of my daughter Bella. She is three and we call her our flower. She speaks in whispers, dances to hidden music, and is sensitive to even the slightest change in tone or volume when I have to correct her. So sensitive, she often cries even at the thought of me being disappointed.

Just last week, I walked into the bathroom to find her on the counter having pasted an entire box of bandages to her body. Wrappers scattered on the floor and still one last bandage between her fingers, she looked up to see me come through the door. I said no words and gave no look when immediately she burst into tears knowing she’d done wrong in wasting the bandages. She couldn’t stand the thought of my disappointment.

Parenting our flower has meant a giant lesson in patience. There is no yelling at Bella, hardly any punishments, and frequently a disappointed look is more than is required to correct even the worst of her behaviors. I, in particular, have had to learn that parenting little flowers like Bella requires a kind of love that is chiefly defined by a soft patience.

As I look back on my own life, I have begun to realize that God has parented me in just the same way. How often have I made huge mistakes, only to feel just the quietest nudge from God in response? How often have I made a mess of my life, only to realize that God says nothing? He simply walks besides me till I burst into tears realizing I can’t clean things up without his help. And he quietly does exactly that.

If I’ve learned nothing else in this change of pace that the pandemic has forced upon me, it’s that God works slowly. His love is a slow burn and a patient kindness. Sure, he could shout out from heaven every time I step out into the wrong path and so save me from myself, but he prefers the patient route. When I have hurts or pain, he could snap his fingers and give me healing. But his love knows that to build strength, character, and, yes, patience, we often need a long arc and a slower journey. I’m learning that God walks slowly, and I need to adjust my own pace so as not to outrun him.

If you are struggling with the uncertainties of our new world or the change of pace, just remember that God is love and love is patient. 

Leave a comment below about your experience with patience and growth. 

 
Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at iamsecond.com and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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