We live today an efficient and speedy life. We are surrounded by electric switches, some of which cost us 10 dollars and others may even cost 2,000 dollars. We want more switches. Who among us dislikes efficiency and a smooth-going comfortable life? University students use the Xerox machine in their studies. Housewives use ‘instant pizza’ for supper. Men’s legs are fast deteriorating from the lack of the most basic human exercise, walking. Automobiles speeding fifty miles an hour have replaced their legs. We believe in efficiency. Let’s not just look at this negatively. There is a great value in efficiency and speed.
But let me make one observation. I find that God goes ‘slowly’ in his educational process of man. ‘Forty years in the wilderness’ points to his basic educational philosophy. Forty years of natural migration through the wilderness, three generations of the united monarchy (Saul, David, Solomon), nineteen kings of Israel (up to 722 BC) and twenty kings of Judah (up to 587 BC), the hosts of the prophets and priests, the experience of exile and restoration – isn’t this rather a slow and costly way for God to let his people know the covenant relationship between God and man?
[…] God walks ‘slowly’ because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is ‘slow’ yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, whether we are currently hit by storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.
The people of God were taught the truth of bread and the word of God in the wilderness as they walked three miles an hour by the three mile an hour God. The Canaanite woman believed in Jesus Christ against all her own speeds by trusting the speed of the promise of God.
from “Three Mile an Hour God,” in Three Mile an Hour God: Biblical Reflections (Orbis, 1979), 6-7.