Even though Easter was just a few days ago, it is likely that you have quickly moved on to the next “thing”. But I want to challenge you to not move on too quickly. I’m sure there are some stories and God moments from this past weekend that are worth lingering over. As pastors we need to do a better job with the discipline of “spiritual loitering”.
We are good at fast, quick, action, produce, accelerate. That’s just the reality of the world we live in and it’s not going to change. What I’m advocating for is that along the way in your busy, demanding, fast-paced ministry world, you learn the discipline of lingering, loitering, and staying in the moment.
There was a recent article in a psychology journal that talked about attitudes and stress. Do you know what they found was the number one stress reliever attitude? Want to guess? It wasn’t gratitude and it wasn’t joy. It was AWE.
Spiritual loitering is a wonderful way to experience more “AWE” in your life.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that “lingering” is the completion of an experience. And lingering is usually followed by awe and gratitude. Maybe the reason there isn’t much awe and gratitude in the lives of Christians is that there isn’t much lingering.
Lingering helps me to slow down, to savor, to deeply experience. Honestly I’m not very good at this. My default mode is to quickly move back into the world of productivity . . . tasks, projects, and lists.
It makes me think of Psalm 34:8 (NLT) Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
To taste something is to experience and enjoy it. I’m sure you have had the experience of being in a hurry at mealtime and scarfing down your meal and never really stopping to taste and enjoy. You just inhaled, not enjoyed. You simply swallowed but you didn’t savor. The same thing can be true in our ministry lives. We can move so fast that we forget to take time to enjoy. I love the fact that in the Old Testament God had a prescribed rhythm of feasts and celebrations that forced the people of Israel to “taste” and enjoy God’s goodness.
The Bible frequently calls on us to linger. All of the biblical feasts and celebrations are calls to “linger” over the goodness of God.
The challenge to “remember” or “think” or “meditate” is an invitation to loiter.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord! Psalm 111:4 (NLT)
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works. I think about what you have done. Psalm 143:5 (NLT)
All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. Psalm 64:9 (NIV)
What unexpected gift do you need to linger over today? Maybe it was a teachable moment with your child or a Bible verse that was just what you needed or a beautiful sunset or a rich conversation with a good friend over a great cup of coffee.
And what about loitering over the good work God is doing in your church? Perhaps somebody came to Christ as a result of your Easter services or in the last few weeks you have helped put a marriage back together. All of those great things shout for us to stop and “loiter”, just hang out and bask in the moment of God changing a life.
Why is this so hard for us? Ourfirst inclination is to blame the noisy and busy world around us. But I believe there is a more fundamental issue. The problem is not just a noisy world, but a noisy heart. I need to slow down and train my heart to be more inclined to linger over moments of “awe”.
Think of the most beautiful site you have ever seen? Seriously, what comes to mind? For me, what comes to mind is flying over the Swiss Alps on a crystal clear day. As I looked at the window of that plane, I saw the mountains clearly. My sight was accurate and unobstructed but something was going on inside me that was beyond truth and accuracy and information. I was moved emotionally and drawn to what I was seeing. I had to pause and just sit in “awe”.
Lingering doesn’t just allow me to see God clearly, but is also allows me to see him beautifully.
Let me challenge you today to linger over these words from Leighton Ford. When you learn to pay attention, he says…
“You will see things you have not seen.
You will be more fully alive.
You will experience life in its depths.
You will be more rooted, less rushed.
You will be a more whole and loving person.
You will live before you die.”