I recently asked this question on social media: “In what part(s) of your life is it most difficult for you to experience God?”
I got answers from college students, ministry leaders, newlyweds, and parents—both young and old. Despite the differences in seasons of life and demographics, there was a resounding theme to most of the answers: it’s hardest to experience God when I’m anxious, busy, and stressed out by the demands of every day.
Our lives are full, our pace is hurried, we have stuff to get done, and fitting God into our plans seems a little extracurricular.
Maybe we feel like the demands of everyday life are at odds with God and what he wants. We see our time with God as sacred and the rest of our day as secular. But maybe the problem isn’t a disconnect between what we want and what God wants. I think the real problem is we see those two desires as separate.
What if what we have to do and what God wants to do actually intersect with each other?
What if God actually wants to walk with us throughout our day instead of watching on the sidelines or getting left at the door?
What if we could hear him and experience him even during the chaos and not just the slow, quiet, peaceful moments?
Is this even possible?
Does the presence of God exist beyond church walls, inspiring conferences, worship music, and morning devotions?
I think many of us know, yes, God is omnipresent. We know this in our heads, but when it comes to seeing it play out in reality, we’re left with a lot of nice theories and notions, but fewer stories or evidence to show for it.
I don’t believe the problem is we’re not spiritual enough. I also don’t believe the problem is God’s not speaking to us.
I believe the problem is simply this: we’re caught up in a pace that doesn’t allow for a pause to look or listen. When our to-do list seems endless, our responsibilities suffocating, and our anxiety inescapable, it’s very unnatural for us to take a breath and ask God, “Where are you? What do you want to do today?”
After all, our agenda already requires us to have a 36 hour day, and we’re all here trying to figure out how to cram our overbooked lives into a 24 hour period. The zipper is bursting at the seams, but we’re trying to shove just one more thing into the suitcase, praying it’ll close and fit in the overhead bin.
An overbooked life doesn’t leave much space for God to do what he wants to do. Especially when you factor in the time it might take to hear from him (and also, how do I even hear from him?!), and then the time and energy it would take to actually follow through with what he might ask of us if we do happen to hear something.
But God didn’t design 24 hour days to restrict and frustrate us. No, he graciously gave us this limit to save us.
I have been reflecting on the 16th psalm for months now. David writes, “LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
David recognizes God’s boundaries don’t mean restriction—they mean freedom!
Paradoxically, in God’s Kingdom, limitations actually bring liberation.
So what does this all have to do with experiencing God in the chaos and busyness of everyday life?
We must recognize God’s invitation for us to give our lives to him isn’t a cruel test of our spiritual devotion or a way of manipulating us to get what he wants. No, this invitation is a grace! He’s saving us from ourselves. He knows we’re sheep who need a Good Shepherd or else we’ll go astray.
We obviously feel the effects of what happens when we allow ourselves to lead and be the god of our schedules: anxiety, overwhelm, chaos, discontentment, and exhaustion.
I believe God is gently whispering to us, asking if we’d be willing to try it his way. To take a breath, slow down, and trust him. As hard as it may be to believe, he really does know what needs to get done. It just may or may not happen on the timeline we’d choose.
He also knows the peace we seek won’t come from a completed to-do list or an empty day on the calendar. I think many of us would agree even when we attain those things, our minds and souls still aren’t at rest. When we’re constantly running at warp speed, we can’t come to a full stop without expecting to skid for a while.
Our minds and souls need time to slow down consistently so when we are afforded a break, we’re actually able to use it for rest and delight, rather than triage and recovery.
Thankfully, rest is offered to us every moment of every day, even in our chaos.
Psalm 23, arguably the most famous psalm, reminds us of this: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”
This psalm is often read at funerals, but we’d be remiss if we thought this only applied to the dead and dying! This is the daily stuff of God. This is Jesus. This is what the Holy Spirit invites us into.
In his presence, we lay down in green pastures—even at a tense work meeting.
With him, we walk beside still waters—even while our kids are screaming and we’re trying to cook dinner.
He refreshes our soul—even when our days feel endlessly mundane and repetitive.
We just need to slow down, open our eyes, and believe it.
For the next five days, my goal is to help you see how Jesus is inviting us to walk in step with him during each ordinary moment of our day. Each day will have a prompt and an invitation to seek God in a way that may feel laughably unspiritual.
Many of us are familiar with prayer, fasting, and reading the Bible as spiritual disciplines. But what I’m suggesting this week are unconventional spiritual disciplines—so unconventional, they may seem neither spiritual nor disciplinary. Seriously, if you’re looking for deep and thoughtful examens to bring great revelation to your life—those exist and are necessary and wonderful—you will not find them here.
These practices are ordinary and unimpressive, but they will slow us down, challenge us to give up a little control and invite us out of the pace running us ragged, and into the pace of the Kingdom: a pace marked by freedom and grace.
The solution to our worn-out souls and anxious hearts isn’t any kind of perfectly executed system. No amount of spiritual disciplines or self-help books or faithful church attendance will fix us—at least not on their own.
Our rest is in Jesus. Not in talking about Jesus. Not in reading other peoples’ opinions or words about Jesus. Not in taking part in Jesus-y programs and groups.
Our rest is in Him.
So if you accept this Kingdom Pace challenge, I just want you to remember: it’s Jesus we need. The hope of every challenge and prompt I write is for us to start seeing how near to us Jesus already is—that we’d draw close to him and continue growing an even deeper friendship with him—and ultimately, for us to trust him fully with every detail of our lives, learning to walk in step with him each day, at his pace instead of our own.
Will you join me?
P.S. – If you’re following along on social media, feel free to use #kingdompace with your photos and stories!