Shrink & Expand

What will you grow with your mustard-like-faith if you simplify your life and get rid of everything else?

Last night I wrote a bad blog.  It was too long.  Instead of shrinking it, I started over.  I decided to share a recent observation instead. I’ve been noticing that when I’m in groups of people, the deeper, heart-to-heart conversations happen when others go home and then it’s one-on-one.  Maybe it has more to do with relational trust than group size, but I don’t think so.  People need to spill their guts and tell the truth about what’s going on in and around them, but people won’t expand and deepen their sharing until you shrink the audience to one or two trustworthy people who genuinely care and are not in a hurry to talk or to leave. 

Unfortunately, most people in our culture are in a hurry and tend to measure value based on size and money.  When Jesus slows us down, He redefines math.  Less is more, and more is less.  When Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “How are we going to feed thousands of people?”  Jesus asked a young boy for his loaves of bread and fish which Jesus then exponentially multiplied to generously feed the crowd.  One day when His disciples prodded Him to get something to eat, Jesus redefined eating and food.  His food was to do the will of God and to complete it.  Jesus knew that spending time with the woman at the well would transform her life, send her on a God-sized mission, and transform her community.  Spending more time with Jesus and with His children is the best use of our time. 

Maybe we’ve just gotten used to a hurried lifestyle.  Maybe we’re always buying or consuming more to make ourselves feel comfortable instead of being thankful and content with who we are, what God has provided, and for the moments that He gives us to share with those around us.

If slower is better and less is more, what would that actually look like for the Christ-follower?  Unloading our busy to-do lists.  Stopping jamming so many activities and tasks into each day.  Getting rid of the stuff that we don’t really need.  Lingering with God so that we can listen more and hear what He’s saying.  Looking for people and looking them in the eye.  Listening more and talking less when we’re with people so that we can really hear what people are saying to us.  Putting technology and other distractions away so that we’re not preoccupied.  What if we go to work, go shopping, or go for a walk with the simple goal of noticing God and enjoying His people?  What if we just ask Jesus to set our pace to match His purpose?  What if our whole goal in life is to love God with our all and to love His people well, holding nothing back?

I want to invite you to join me in constructing a shrink-and-expand prayer.  “Lord, help us to ruthlessly eliminate all forms of hurry from our lives.  Help us to get rid of our distractions and preoccupations that prevent us from developing spiritual, emotional, and relational depth.  Help us to slow down and enjoy You and the people whom you’ve placed in our lives.  Teach us to make the most of our time for us to grow in wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Restore the joy of our salvation, and grant us a willing spirit to sustain us (Psalm 51:12).  Help us to listen well, live well, and love well.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.”           

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