Recent news in the Straits Times includes Singaporeans’ desire to have a slower pace of life. At some point of our lives, we may be ‘forced’ to slow down; because of illness, surgery, sprains, fracture, depression etc. Recently, I’d right shoulder surgery and had to slow down considerably. Common everyday stuff like eating, brushing teeth, sleeping, was challenging as I’d to learn to use my left hand. Some of us may be caught up with one thing after another, with work, family, the deluge of social media, looking after sick ones etc. We are caught in the fast pace of life and it is hard to slow down. As the song goes, ‘stop the world and let me off, I’m turning round and round’.
And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31)
We thought that no time is a modern-day scourge. It seems that the disciples experienced ‘no time’ too. Jesus asked them to rest a while. We also have the example of God (Gen 2: 2-3) to rest. The work-rest rhythm is set by God Himself. For some or many of us, it may mean slowing down to do something different, namely to refocus. What do we slow down for? I like to suggest one way – take in slow food.
We have fast food. What is not talked about much is slow food. In contrast with fast food which is produced on an industrial scale, slow food has to do with local foods and centuries-old traditions of gastronomy and food production. It encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. I like to propose slow spiritual food: to take time to know God which is part of Bethesda Chapel’s theme. Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind (I Chron 28:9). Take time to know Him. One way is to know His revealed will – by reading, studying, meditating on His Word.
On getting into the Word of God, one way is to start with grasping the text in its town, that is, to understand the message to the original hearers. As I read Genesis again, my attention was directed to Gen 1:2 with a focus on the bold parts. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. What does ‘waters’ signify to the audience? Why ‘hovering’? For the original audience, what waters signify include darkness, evil, restless (cf Jude). Hovering means ‘lingering’, ‘suspended in the air’. That means, not fast, but a slow movement. Then, we have the little word, a preposition, over. Putting it together, we have God is in control. Some of us may be going through difficult times and feel restless, overwhelmed, useless and helpless. With the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, we can be at peace. When we faced overwhelming odds, Gen 1:2 is calming.
Dear brothers and sisters, slow down, stop and smell the roses, take in slow food.
Deaconess Dr Ler Soon Lay Vivien