“I hear your voice carried/ in the rhythm of the wind/ to call me out. / You would cross an ocean/ so I wouldn’t drown. / You’ve never been closer than You are right now.”- Jireh, Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land.”- Exodus 13:17 (NLT)
In the spring of 2011, six months after Crown of Compassion first posted on the internet, I received a phone call from St. John’s Lutheran School. The principal inquired about my availability to teach seventh grade for a week. Because the classroom teacher was leading the eighth grade on a trip to Washington, DC.
Although my full-time teaching experience spanned grades one through four, I accepted the assignment. With slight discomfort. However, the week proceeded smoothly — a seamless transition. One specific impactful moment involved a chapter in the book The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. That chapter carried the curious title of ‘Bobo Brazil Meets the Sheik.’ I suspected the class had no idea that Bobo Brazil wrestled professionally for four decades. So, when they walked in from recess that day, Bobo greeted them on the Smartboard.
However, on Friday God’s voice carried in the rhythm of the wind. Shortly after I arrived at school, one of the boys, Jezzriah, handed me an envelope. It contained a letter and a candy bar. Among his mature insights:
“I know it’s never easy for a sub, but you made it look easy. . . . I want you to know that I respect and appreciate you.”
In his latest book, Do It for a Day, Mark Batterson stresses that we love to wish for instant everything. Because we live in a culture that values fifteen minutes of fame over fifty years of faithfulness. As a result, the smallest delays irritate us. For example, famed Tonight Show host Johnny Carson once quipped that a New York minute equaled “the time it takes for the light in front of you to turn green and the guy behind you to honk his horn.”
Furthermore, in 1947 General Mills introduced its first instant cake mix – just add water. The simple, easy mix failed to sell, because it took little effort. But when General Mills changed the mix so customers added their own eggs and measured the water, sales soared. As Pastor Batterson underscores, “Harder is better, and slower is faster.”
Certainly, at first difficult tasks slow down your learning process. Yet, such tasks yield a long-term benefit called durable learning. And desirable difficulty represents the middle ground where growth occurs. Thus, this requires considerable effort. In addition, the term, coined by Robert A Bjork, sounds like an oxymoron.
Most significantly, a sweet spot exists. JMD – just manageable difficulty. As JMD implies, it’s a little: (a) outside your comfort zone, (b) beyond your resources, and (c) past your pay grade. Consequently, you need someone to push you past your perceived limits. Also, Mark states, you need to get comfortable with discomfort.
In conclusion, Pastor Batterson exhorts, get off the merry-go-round that spins faster and faster. And the next time you read the Gospels, take note how often Jesus retreats – with great frequency and intentionality. Operate with a sense of urgency yet work at an unhurried pace. Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyoma describes Jesus as “the three mile an hour God.”
Heed the Holy Spirit’s nudge coaxing you out of your comfort zone and into your growth zone. Listen for the voice of Jesus, carried in the rhythm of the wind. Jehovah Jireh – forever, always and more than enough!