In An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest Alan Fadling contends many of us are suffering from hurry sickness, and that it is not only detrimental to our bodies but also to our souls. We are going too fast to hear God, too fast to grow deeply, too fast to discern the temptations that lead us astray.
He begins by painting a picture of the frenetic life that characterizes modern life. He contrasts this with the idea of apprenticeship with Jesus, the unhurried learning with him. He argues from the life of Jesus that unhurry isn’t laziness and that there is no such thing as holy hurry, only holy unhurry. Unhurry enables us to resist temptations, which often come in the form of pressure to take shortcuts to some seemingly good thing. Unhurry gives us time to stop and care, to stop and pray. Sabbath is the gift of unhurried rest for God’s people. The next chapters (8 and 9) were most significant for me. He talks about suffering and how it can stop us in our tracks and take us into a place of unhurry where we meet God. And he talks about maturity, which if it is to happen well and deeply, cannot happen fast.
He concludes with a helpful chapter on practices for unhurry including EPC (Extended Personal Communion with God) which seemed to me another word for taking periods of spiritual retreat. Perhaps most helpfully, he suggests a one-third rule in the learning of spiritual practices, where one third of one’s learning time is devoted to actual practice. He also commends the practices of slowing down (for example, driving in the slow lane) and sleep, of which too many of us are deprived. His last chapter is on eternal life, in which we are already living. An eternal perspective can help us by reminding us that such a life is life with the Triune God, and that we are already where Christ is with God and this is what most matters.
I appreciated this book for its practicality (an eternal perspective is intensely practical!). I also appreciated his challenges to the numbers mentality that sets aside apprenticeships to pursue the fickle masses. Unhurried, deep work in the lives of people will touch many, as it did with Jesus work with the twelve. And this is what the author contends will happen when we follow Jesus in his rhythms of work and rest.
Note: Also posted as Review: An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest on Bob on Books (Bob Trube. 1/30/2014).
Bob Trube is Associate Director of Faculty Ministry and Director of the Emerging Scholars Network. He blogs on books regularly at bobonbooks.com. He resides in Columbus, Ohio, with Marilyn and enjoys reading, gardening, choral singing, and plein air painting.