The Pace of Grace

blog Apr 11, 2024

By Ben Dailey & Travis Hall

Today, we live with a higher sense of urgency than at any time in history. Before the Industrial Revolution began in the middle of the 18th century, life followed the rhythms of the seasons. Most people lived on small farms, without electricity or running water, and of course, without trains, cars and planes. And significantly, without clocks. They worked by the rising and setting of the sun and in the rhythms of the seasons.

The Industrial Revolution multiplied efficiency by the use of new technology. Each new wave of innovation added more speed to the pace of life, and we learned to look at clocks and watches dozens of times a day to be sure we’re “on schedule.” We even walk faster today than we did a few years ago![1]

If we’re committed to being healthy spiritually, emotionally and relationally, we need to rediscover the pace of grace. I (Ben) think of my soul as a garden that needs to be tended. If I’m not patient and attentive, weeds of doubt and fear can crowd out the growing appreciation for the love of God. And if I’m not careful, a drought of neglected prayer and meditation on the Word can parch my soul. A good gardener doesn’t try to rush the flowers or fruit. He trusts the normal pace of development.

An important part of slowing down to the pace of grace is (surprise!)—to be gracious to yourself. I’m a high-energy, go-for-it leader, and I burn through a lot of rocket fuel very quickly. That’s not a flaw; it’s my personality. But it means I need to be even more careful to slow down and pay attention to the garden of my soul. The last few years of COVID, racial unrest, economic downturns and political upheaval have strained all of us. When I voiced my frustration, a trusted mentor told me, “Ben, we’ve been through a hard time . . . a really challenging time. We’re all pressured, and we all need grace. Stop beating yourself up. Treat yourself with compassion.”

If we don’t believe we’re enough, we always look into the future to determine our value. “I may not be worthy and valuable today, but someday . . .” Many of us are obsessed with “next”—the next promotion, the next house or car, the next award for our child, the next vacation, or the next something else. We’re not satisfied with God’s great grace today, and we assume fulfillment and peace are out there somewhere. In Christ, our next is now. Some people have called our obsession with what’s next “destination addiction.” Psychologist Robert Holden describes this problem:

People who suffer from Destination Addiction believe that success is a destination. They are addicted to the idea that the future is where success, happiness, and heaven is. Each passing moment is merely a ticket to get to the future. They live in the “not now”; they are psychologically absent, and they disregard everything they have. … There is no point of arrival. We are permanently dissatisfied.[2]

One day when Kim and I were on vacation, she asked me a penetrating question, “Ben, why have you lived your entire life only to get to the end of it?”

I tried to blow her off: “What are you talking about? I don’t do that.”

But she was right. As I thought about her observation, I realized I’d lived at a frantic pace, exhibiting neurotic behavior. The church is full of people just like me (well, maybe not quite as bad as me, but close) who simply can’t slow down and enjoy each moment as God’s gracious gift. We talk about heaven, and for good reason, but I’m afraid we focus on it to the exclusion of experiencing God’s presence today.

Jesus bore the eternal destiny of every human being—a crushing weight—but we never see Him in a hurry, never frantic, never frustrated by the pace of things. When he says, “Follow me,” at least part of that means to go at His pace alongside Him, not run ahead of Him to achieve or acquire more.

Yes, we need a vision. Jesus had a clear vision of a desired future. Yes, we need a plan. Jesus was born to inaugurate the new kingdom of the crucified and risen Messiah. Yes, we need commitment and tenacity. Jesus “set His face like flint” to go to Jerusalem to take the punishment we deserve so we could experience the honor He deserves. But in all these pursuits, Jesus kept His heart fixed on the Father, spending long times in prayer and walking (not running) from place to place.

Today, many of us suffer from “hurry sickness.” We check our watches incessantly, get frustrated if the car in front of us doesn’t immediately go when the light turns green, rush to complete tasks, and live with a nagging sense of FOMO—fear of missing out.

Jesus came to give us an abundant life, not to rush us to an end. In Him, we’re beloved, so we need to allow ourselves to experience being loved by God. Our job isn’t to achieve God’s presence and affection but to put ourselves in a posture to continually receive what He has already given. In our pursuit of “next”, we may find Jesus to be more useful than beautiful—we trust Him to make us more effective and give us blessings—but we miss the wonder of His awesome power and love. Wonder shouldn’t be uncommon in our hearts and in our worship. After Peter spoke at Pentecost and three thousand believed, Luke tells us, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

Destination addiction is devoid of wonder. It looks down at what I have to get done right away, and it looks forward to a time when all my efforts will finally pay off, but it doesn’t look up to see the beauty of Jesus. It causes us to miss the joys of relating to our spouse, children, and friends, and the simple pleasures that God surrounds us with every single day.

King David was a busy man—ruling a nation, commanding an army in battle, administrating the kingdom—but he knew the source of peace in the midst of chaos: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

He had many responsibilities, but “one thing” was most important. What was it? To “dwell”, inhabit, and occupy the place where heaven and earth meet. When? “All the days of my life.” And what happened there? David gazed, which is a prolonged stare, at “the beauty of the Lord” and interacted with God about the things that concerned him.

I have to ask, “Is God beautiful to me? Is He a means to my success, or is He the end, my highest good, my treasure, my delight?” How about you?

Here are some questions that help me “inquire in his temple”:

  •  Do I expect the next big success, big purchase, or big event will finally give me the significance and peace I long for?
  •  How much do I look around at others and wonder why I’m not farther ahead?
  •  How much energy am I expending on a dream of the future at the expense of delighting in God today (and my family and friends today)?

Kim’s question started me on this journey, and it prompted new insights and changes.

We need to reframe our days and weeks to carve out time to delight in God, and we need to do the harder work of reframing our hearts so that we aren’t frantic all day every day. The change will be difficult because our culture screams that we have to hurry even more! We can get off the runaway freight train of destination addiction only when we realize we’re living from a secure place of security and significance instead of striving for security and significance.

If anything, an experience of grace sharpens our vision because we’re more in tune with God’s heart for the lost and the least, and it gives us a different kind of energy because we tap into His limitless resources in the Spirit instead of “running on empty”.

We can’t add anything to our status as God’s forgiven, righteous, adopted children. One more accolade won’t add to it, or one more possession, or one more promotion, or one more dollar. It’s done. It’s over. Our standing with the God of the universe is secure and complete. Jesus said, “It is finished,” “It is paid”—the struggle is over.

My (Travis’s) doctoral professor, Gary Moon, asked me some questions to help me grasp the Father’s heart. He asked, “Travis, do you have kids?”

“Yes, I sure do.”

“Do you have a backyard where they play?”


“Do you ever watch them play, smiling and laughing?”

“Of course. I love it.”

“At what point as you watch them do you say to yourself, ‘Gosh, I sure hope they know what they’re doing. I hope they get it right.’”

“Uh . . . never.”

Gary then told me, “That’s the way it is with the Father. He doesn’t look at you and wonder if you’re going to get it right. He wants to know if you’re really enjoying the life He’s given you.”

We know that the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to live at the pace of grace. He wants us to stay on the treadmill of performance, searching and striving toward a destination that’s always just out of reach. Scripture gives us a unique glimpse into the strategy of the enemy to keep us addicted to a destination. Daniel received a prophetic word about the Son of Man, but he also received a warning: The enemy “shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law” (Daniel 7:24-25).

This is a clear warning against our preoccupation with “next”. It’s based on the lie that God’s timing is too slow and His grace isn’t enough, which leaves us driven or depressed (or both) and wears us out. Satan speeds up the clock, making us feel that we’re always behind, and fooling us that we’re still under the law which condemns. Fatigue drains our faith, and we’re more easily tempted when we’re tired and frustrated.

Instead of enjoying the moment, our focus is riveted on the only thing that seems important: catching up. We believe our lives are valuable only in our accomplishments, and the quicker the better. We worry and we hurry, but no matter how much we get checked off our to-do sheets, we can easily miss the blessings of God and the abundance.

When the Spirit shows us where we’ve missed God’s best, we have a choice: to ignore the Spirit’s whisper, kick against it by being defensive, grovel in self-condemnation for being such a bad Christian, or grasp the opportunity to change our agenda to align with God’s. Instead, experience freedom from bondage to “next”. God’s grace is enough, and in Him, you’re enough.


[1] BBC News, “What Walking Speeds Say About Us,” BBC News, last updated 2 May 2007,

[2] Robert Holden, Ph.D., “What Is Destination Addiction? How to Stop Thinking about What Comes Next,” Robert Holden, Ph.D. Blog,


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