But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
It’s THAT Time of Year
Advent and Christmas is to be a time of hope, joy and fulfilled promises. The reality is the season fills many of us with dread – it is a reminder of too much to do, too little time and a 100-mph pace that leaves us exhausted. Perhaps, this is the time to learn a different pace – the pace of God and his grace.
An Old Lesson for a Fast-Paced World
In his book, “Three Mile an Hour God”, Kosuke Koyama says that while the world continues to speed up and move faster and faster, God and his grace comes to us at a walking pace, three miles an hour. As an example, Koyama writes that when God wanted to teach his people that “man does not live by bread alone”, he used forty years wandering in the desert. Forty years in the wilderness for one lesson. “People cannot live without bread. But we must not live even by this essential alone. Bread alone, shelter-alone, clothing-alone, income-alone, all these ‘alones’ damage our quality of life” and cannot sustain us when we are in the wilderness. Only grace can do that. “Alones” drive us and create a pace of life we are not built for and cannot maintain without exhausting our very souls. We need “bread PLUS the Word of God”.
A New Pace
In the wilderness, we are slowed down until we gradually come to the speed at which we walk – three miles an hour. Jesus’ disciples regularly urge Jesus to move faster and to ignore distractions. And yet, we find Jesus continually turning aside and stopping to care for people. Jesus was teaching us what God is like – he is a God who turns aside and gives up efficiency and speed to teach us about his love and grace. He slows down to care for us in our brokenness, our disappointments, our failures and our frustrations. Koyama notes that God’s greatest gift of grace, Jesus, came and “walked toward the ‘full stop’.” He was nailed down! At this point of ‘full stop’, we see the love of God ultimately and fully revealed. “God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love, he would have gone much faster.”
Take a Walk
There is no gift-alone, no family experience-alone, no perfect party-alone, no perfect schedule-alone, that will create life and joy. Life and joy are found when we walk as we were intended – at three miles an hour because it is there that we find God walking with us. This Advent and Christmas try walking with God instead of running by yourself and you may come to discover that God’s grace is truly sufficient for all your hopes and dreams, and even your very life.
Gary Dollar is a partner with St. Louis-based EMD Consulting, which assists nonprofit groups in fundraising, leadership development and building organizational strength. As a senior leader of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, including 12 years as President and CEO, Gary helped build the organization into the 5th largest United Way in the nation. Gary works with nonprofits looking to build operational and fundraising success, nonprofit leaders in developing and communicating strategy and in facing difficult situations/decisions, and has an affinity for working with faith-based organizations. Gary has served on numerous boards of faith-based and other nonprofit organizations, including BBT. For more than 20 years, Gary has served both as a full-time and bi-vocational pastor and associate pastor. He teaches in the Executive Certificate in Religious fundraising at the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. He is a graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Ill., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. Gary and his wife, Gale, have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.