Ours is a hurried age in which speed is deified and waiting is demonized.
Ours is a cluttered age in which noise is the norm and images constantly clamor for our attention.
And in our hurried, cluttered age, faster has become a synonym for better, and experience has become a substitute for relationship.
The problem, however, is that faster experiences do not produce better relationships with people or with God.
Relationship with God is best fed by a steady practice of attentiveness to God (as opposed to occasional spikes of engagement and intense surges of experience), which may help explain some of the spiritual dissatisfaction and burnout puzzling countless sincere souls in our day. We mistake the spikes and surges for spiritual strength and are left wondering why our faith at times still feels uneven and lonely.
Changing such age-old patterns requires new thinking, and that, at first, can seem strenuous. We are so attached to our fast, experiential, adrenaline-addicted culture that we confidently call physical spikes energy and spiritual spikes inspiration.
The potential combinations of surges and spikes are almost endless in an age where many, but certainly not all, Jesus-followers suffer an embarrassment of spiritual riches. Inspirational quotes are at our fingertips. Moving devotionals remind us that God’s mercies are new multiple times every morning. Books abound. The best of the best sermons, interviews, and teachings are instantly accessible. These ever-expanding options are then supercharged by prayerfully and carefully crafted weekly services and truly breathtaking seasonal conferences and conventions.
However, God did not architect us to live—physically or spiritually—on adrenaline surges, however excellent their choreography may be. By divine design, we flourish with a connectivity that is more even and steady: one that accompanies each breath and affects each step. Faith is a glorious opportunity to live in Him—with or without the experience of feelings—through willful, moment-by-moment attentiveness to Jesus, Whose presence neither surges nor wanes.
Fast Faith, in contrast, lives surge to surge, ever alert to formulas and combinations that help the feelings linger longer.
Fast Faith tends to interpret the sensory crashes in between surges not as waning adrenaline or normalization but rather as a lack of devotion or—even more erroneously—as the absence of God.
Fast Faith is a restless spirituality that often craves what is new and what is next, in the recycled hope that the latest “it” can satisfy an ache that can only be described as timeless.
And sadly, Fast Faith is also one of the reasons a generation is departing from Christianity to explore other religions that promise inner peace. To date, I have never heard anyone excuse him- or herself from the table because there were not enough excellent or exciting offerings to choose from, but because, after eating, he or she still felt hungry. Their complaint is about sustainability: “It was great. But it just didn’t last.” So he or she keeps wandering in search of something that will endure, in search of a feeling that can remain.
In truth, only God remains.
And God is not a feeling.
(to be continued)
[Excerpted with permission from Alicia’s book, The Sacred Slow: A Holy Departure From Fast Faith (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017), p. 3-5.]
Dr. Alicia Britt Chole is a leadership mentor, speaker, and award-winning writer. She lives in the quiet countryside of Missouri with her husband of 27 years and their three children through the miracle of adoption. Her favorite things include honest questions, thunderstorms, jalapenos, pianos in empty rooms, and all things #LOTR. To explore Alicia’s resources or download her devotional, GodPrint :: 7 Days of Discovery, visit www.aliciabrittchole.com. You can keep up with Alicia on social media at @aliciabrittchole.