Our heartbeat is a sign of life. It’s what you wait to hear at every prenatal doctor appointment. It’s the pulse you check before starting CPR. Your heartbeat can race with emotional excitement, and it pounds in your ears with a good workout.
Sometimes in the ER, we have a patient whose heart beats too slowly. We watch the rhythm on the monitor, we check the pulse; we look at how the patient is feeling and what symptoms they are having.
When a heart beats too slow, it isn’t effective. The rest of the body isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs and it begins to hunger for that nourishment; if it doesn’t get it, the body can start to shut down. No fuel for the engine, and it can’t keep going.
So, we have to help the heart to beat with a pacer.
We set the rate, and the pacer stimulates the heart to beat more often, helping blood to flow throughout the body and keep it nourished and healthy.
Interestingly enough, a heart that beats too fast also doesn’t pump effectively, and the same negative consequences can happen.
We set a healthy pace.
In high school, I competed in track & field and as a runner we learned the importance of pacing ourselves in a race. In the 400m race, we were coached to give 100% for the first 100m, then lengthen our stride for the next 200m, conserving some energy, then rev it up for the last 100m in the last dash to the finish line.
Coach knew if we set our pace high for the whole 400m, we would burn out and crash before we could even make it to the end of the race.
However, for the sprinters running the 100m sprint, it was simple: run with everything you got!
We adjust our pace to the race before us.
The different seasons of life need us to adjust our pace and adapt to what is going on in us, and around us.
When I think about the pace in my life, I remember the times when I’ve set the pace high, and I remember times where I have set the pace slow. There were seasons to drive forward, and seasons to hold back; times to grow in relationships and times to draw back for reflection.
I’ve recognized that not all the circumstances in my life were under my control. Dad has a heart attack and needs some extra care and attention. Kids get sick and ‘normal’ life gets put on hold. Serving in ministry means being available when you are needed. Sometimes our best plans get re-directed.
What guides the pace we set for our life?
As we enter another busy year, here are some questions to ask ourselves as we lead our families, and our own lives.
1. Am I trying to do good, or make myself look good?
It’s a hard, honest question. In his book Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart and your soul are in danger.” We may desire to look a certain part, but we all face the danger, struggles and temptations.
Our pride gets in the way of all sorts of things, and what we are involved in is one of them. Can we stand before the Lord, with our schedules and livelihood, and have Him lead and guide us into repentance, when our pride is becoming our fall, and with willingness to surrender to Him.
2. Do I have healthy rhythms of rest?
I see in the life of Jesus, healthy rhythms of rest and retreat. We see Him walking away from crowds to get time alone to dwell with the Father. We see Him making Himself wholly available to the needs of those around Him. He lives a surrendered life, making the most of every opportunity.
If you took a look at the hours you spend in a day, are there times plugged in for you to sit with the Lord in His Word and abide with Him? Are there times rest and retreat, for unplugging and enjoying your family? Am I aware of the needs around me, in this moment? A busy life doesn’t have to lead you to burn-out and exhaustion. Practice incorporating times of rest and refreshment. Watch for the opportunities around you to show love.
3. Am I living Coram Deo?
The coram deo means “in the presence of God.” Tim Challies writes in his book Do More Better that “To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.” Have I put my to-do list, my schedule into His presence and authority?
Being busy is a part of our society and culture. We can be busy for good reasons, or for wrong reasons. We don't blindly adopt everything about our culture, but we are called to be salt and light to those around us.
Kevin DeYoung also writes, “The antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote is rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God.”
And so, we ask the questions, we evaluate our pace, remembering that a pace too slow can keep us isolated and uninvolved, and a pace too fast can have us running wild. We strive for a healthy pace, recognizing our own needs, and the needs of our families. We put His glory before us in all that we do. The people around us need love and they need the Gospel. In the pace we set, we strive for the finish, for His name to be made known across the world.
How will you set a healthy pace this year?
This post was written with the fiveminutefriday.com; word prompt: PACE