"Take Your Time for Soul Formation"
Life is moving faster than ever these days and with all of the speed comes our expectation that we will get nearly everything we want just when we want it. Like many of us, I have become dependent on the speed of the internet to provide much of the information I need in a few clicks. It has become a constant extension of my thinking and acting, and the conduit for a great deal of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind.
The advantages of getting so much information so quickly are many. What used to take days and weeks of research in libraries, books and periodicals is all available in an instant. However all of this ease due to speed also comes at a price. Nicholas Carr in his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains observes that the internet seems to be chipping away our capacity for concentration and contemplation.
Whether we are online or not, we expect to take in information the way the internet distributes it - in a swiftly moving stream of words. Once we explored words and ideas at our own rate. Now we swim in a sea of words which come at us at a lightning fast pace.
Jesus Christ offers transformative grace and freedom from whatever binds us. To receive the gifts of his presence means being formed into his likeness. In Galatians 4:19, Paul says I am in travail until Christ be formed in you. Becoming more and more like Christ takes time. And time is the one commodity that seems to be in short supply for many of us.
As individuals and as a church, we need to take the time needed in order to allow spiritual formation to develop. Formation is different from information. We don’t grow deeply because of some information we get in a moment, an experience, a program or a project. Soul growth is a process which takes concentrated effort on our parts.
Here are a couple of guidelines for transformative growth in Christ: 1) never be in a hurry 2) give God space by carving out time every day for concentrated reading, study and prayer 3) allow yourself time to build and 4) trust and relax - God is building into you as you give God access and permission.
The internet is a fantastic tool - but don’t give more credit than it is due. The most important task we undertake in life is to allow Christ to be formed in us. Formation takes time. So disconnect from the internet daily and give God space and time to work in you.