Lag (Wednesday, March 20th)

Cross image for Lent Aaron Burden Unsplash

Wednesday, March 20th

Lag: to move, function, or develop with comparative slowness

James 1:19-20 (NRSV)
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.


In recent days I have been thinking about ‘knee-jerk reactions.’ The word comes from the way our knee reflexively jerks when a doctor thumps it in a certain spot with a little hammer. We can’t control our knee’s reaction. One definition of a knee-jerk reaction is to “respond to something in an equally unthinking way.” Sometimes surprising or upsetting experiences DO cause us to have knee-jerk reactions. We can’t help but react in an uncontrolled way.

But I’m noticing even in myself that sometimes we tend to pre-plan what will be our knee-jerk reactions, especially if we are awaiting a decision or some news that is going to affect us negatively and significantly. We begin to think, “If this doesn’t go my way, then I will…” In one such incident, I had told myself that I would leave an organization if a certain decision was made- and then that decision came about.

In the days following, I noticed that I felt like the childhood friend who, if she didn’t get her way, would take her toys and go home. As if that makes anyone feel better. (On a side note, my dad would always joke, “Please don’t go away angry. Just go away.”) I also felt a nudge from God about allowing space for the Spirit to move. I needed to lag in making any decisions until the Spirit clarified the issues and what would be my best response.

Maybe this is the problem with many of our dialogues and debates these days. We enter into the discussions with our decisions already in mind. We have our knee-jerk reactions ready for any result that isn’t the one we want. We don’t allow God any space to work in our deliberations and considerations. We just become angry, take our toys and go home if we don’t get our way.

Our righteousness grows when we pause to let the Spirit move. We may have our response well-considered beforehand, but the process was done in a hypothetical situation. We need to revisit that plan with the Spirit once we have the reality before us. The reality may give us new perspectives and insights. The Spirit may reveal a new way to make a better difference for everyone. Often the Spirit moves best when our lives seem up-ended. We just need to lag, to refrain from reacting until the Spirit helps us form our response- the best response.

“Lag” usually sounds like a detriment, but sometimes lagging is exactly what God would want us to do. God’s righteousness comes when we are slow to speak, slow to become angry, but quick to listen.



All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at

Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One Comment on “Lag (Wednesday, March 20th)

  1. Love this! Great insight and I loved that dad quote! I’ve heard the same words and when I read yours, it caused a smile! Thank you! Thanks for sharing your Lenten journey, keep the L’s coming!! 😊


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