Car racing is all about going fast and getting there first. But at the beginning of each race there is a special car, called a pace car, which leads the field of racers. The pace car’s purpose is to limit the speed of the cars until the race begins, or in the case of an accident, until it is safe to resume racing speeds. In NASCAR the speed of a pace car varies depending on what race track they are on, it can range from 40mph to 70mph. The pace car sets the pace of all the other cars.
If you travel life with someone very young, or significantly older, or someone in a wheelchair or who uses canes or walkers to get about, you understand that it is important to match your speed to theirs. If you want to travel together, the slower traveler sets the pace. If you don’t let the slower traveler set the pace, you will leave them in the dust.
Jesus traveled slowly. Probably at about 3mph. That is an average walking speed. And Jesus walked everywhere. We are never given an example of him running.
There may have been times that his friends wished he would pick up the pace, go a little or a lot faster. Mary and Martha probably felt that way. After sending word to Jesus that their brother was sick, they waited for Jesus to come and heal him. But Jesus took his time. In fact, he didn’t start out to their house for two days after he got word. He traveled to their home very slowly. And when he arrived their brother had been dead for four days. Did he blow it? Was he late? Should he have moved faster?
If you know Jesus, or know this story, then you know it didn’t matter that Jesus moved so slowly. He spoke a word and Lazarus was raised back to life. (John 11:1-45) Jesus’ slowness was not an accident. It was purposeful. He told his friends, “I am glad that I wasn’t there (when Lazarus died), so that you will come to trust.”
Trust. That is what God desires. He desires us to trust him. To trust him and let him set the pace. To trust him and not rely on what we see or know or understand. To admit that he is God. That he is worthy of our trust. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Who is setting your pace? Who is setting the pace of your congregation? Jesus traveled through this world very slowly, and he invites us to walk with him. In fact, he came so that we could walk with him.
Pastor, you are the shepherd leading God’s sheep. You are also the pace car, setting the pace. Are you racing ahead? Moving too fast? Let Jesus set the pace. To do that you will have to trust him, watch him and match your steps to his.
This week read over John 11:1-45 several times, also Proverbs 3:5,6. Talk to Jesus about trust and about your pace.
by Robin Schmidt