Shepherd’s Care: The Pace of Grace

I want to return to a theme I’ve noted previously, but this time I want to spend an extended period of time in relation to it.  The theme is “Renewing the Pace of Grace.”

The phrase ‘pace of grace’ came to me through Susan Muto’s book Meditation in Motion, as her burned-out missionary friend told her that he was “living beyond the pace of grace.”  If you remember my previous comments, you’ll know how I said I had never even thought that grace might have a pace.

As I get older, the more I believe that it does—and—the more I believe our contemporary world and styles of life have virtually broken all the boundaries in relation to the pace of grace, even to the point of rewarding those who find their identity and a lot of their value in “being busy.”

I begin this series in confession, for I was among the boundary breakers for a long time—even while teaching Spiritual Formation and being regularly exposed to people and teachings that modeled another way.  Gradually, however, God began to get my attention, and things have never been the same since.  At least now, when I “run, run, run as fast as I can,” the Holy Spirit is present to say, “Stop it!”  At least now, I know there is another way to live, and I am able to hear God’s call to live it, even if imperfectly.

In returning to this theme, I want to be clear that what we are going to be looking at is possible in today’s world.  But it is not automatic.  The pace of grace requires a sizeable and sustained response to grace and an enormous act of the will.  It also will likely require a willingness to be misunderstood by people who will think something is wrong with you as you decide to live another way.  And for some, your choice to live more within the pace of grace will threaten those who do not.

So…we’re beginning a new theme in each week’s “Shepherd’s Care” post.  You may want to invite your pastor or others to join in.  We’re in for a journey that will (in Clint Eastwood’s phrase) turn us every which way but loose—but will also offer us life, hope, peace, and joy.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books.
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