An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest
It seems that Alan Fadling has spent much of his career as a pastor to young adults --- in California, if locale is relevant. He now is executive director of a ministry based in Orange County that “train(s) Christian leaders to integrate spiritual formation and leadership development.”
The first line of his book shows where he’s coming from: “I’m a recovering speed addict --- and I don’t mean the drug. I’m talking about the inner pace of my life. I always seemed to be in a hurry.” AN UNHURRIED LIFE includes snippets from Fadling’s own journey to a slower pace. But it is ultimately a teaching book more than a memoir; it is coaching or exhortation laced with anecdote, as in a good sermon series.
"AN UNHURRIED LIFE is a good candidate for a multisession group discussion, which could start with the questions for reflection at the end of each chapter."
Right up front, Fadling makes it clear that he isn’t advocating a call to lethargy but rather an attentive awareness of God and God’s timing, of one’s priorities and pacing, of one’s human limitations and dependence on grace. Just as it’s proposed that “less” can effect “more,” so also “more” --- hurrying to get everything accomplished, to be everywhere at once, to minister to the greatest number of people --- can ultimately lead to less effective influence and less graced satisfaction.
Most chapters hook to biblical passage, such as Jesus’ wilderness temptation (“Temptation; Unhurried Enough to Resist”) and the Good Samaritan (“Unhurried Enough to Care”). As is often the case, the end of the book is more engaging than the middle. Later chapters cover the patience required by suffering and the slow path to maturity (“Growing Up Takes Time”). Having read a lot of summaries of “spiritual practices,” I wasn’t expecting much inspiration in a chapter titled “Spiritual Practices for Unhurrying.” But indeed the descriptions and commendations did feel fresh, possibly because some of the discussion deals with disciplines played out in groups/meetings and possibly because Fadling writes of “sleep” as a discipline.
Then there’s this (long) sentence about “seeking guidance”: “Maybe I could learn to ask less for God’s guidance and more for a sense that he is being my guide; to ask less for help and more for the awareness that he wants to be my helper; and to ask less for strength and more for confidence that he is my stronghold.” And the final chapter, “An Eternal Life,” reminds us that our current life is part of the eternal spectrum. “Does my life look as though I believe the universe might come to an abrupt end if I don’t keep moving? You and I are actually living eternal life now.”
AN UNHURRIED LIFE is a good candidate for a multisession group discussion, which could start with the questions for reflection at the end of each chapter.
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on February 19, 2014