You move too fast

yield-signSad to say, it was not an unusual situation.

There I stood in front of my closet. According to the day’s schedule, I should have been backing my car out of the garage door at that precise moment.

Instead, though, I was hurriedly trying to button one of the buttons on the collar of my favorite blue-and-white striped shirt.

You know that button… one of those annoyingly SMALL ones that go into an annoyingly small hole.

It seemed the harder I tried… the more vigorously I attempted to speed my progress along… the harder that little button was to shove through the buttonhole.

“OK,” I said to me in my best coach’s voice. “Slow down, for crying out loud! You’re just making it worse.”

It was the right advice in the situation, but it seemed totally contradictory. Considering how far behind schedule I was, I really needed to SPEED THINGS UP!

In that moment I wondered: why do I have such difficulty with the command to SLOW DOWN?

There is great wisdom in those two words. And yet it often seems to be wisdom that is at odds with the world we live in. We push ourselves to see more… do more… fit more in to the schedule… go faster… get it done quicker.

And nowhere is the ethic of FASTER! FASTER! more in evidence than in this… the wholly season of Christmas. I’m sorry… I meant to say HOLY season of Christmas.

Didn’t the Eagles warn us about the dangers of Life in the Fast Lane all the way back in 1976? (“Doctor says he’s comin’ but you’ve got to pay in cash.”). And yet we still believe we can win the race against life’s inexorable clock.

What is it – do you suppose – that pushes us? What drives our foot downward on our personal accelerators… bent on going as fast as we can, while trying desperately not to get a ticket?

My guess is: we want to produce. We want to make deadlines. We want to be effective. We want to gain the approval of others. We want to prove our worth… again and again.

But if that is our intention, what happens to those OTHER purposes of life? …like the “life abundant” purpose Jesus mentions in John 10:10? Or the “love” purpose he talks about in Matthew 22, or John 15 or in numerous other places? And tell me: how does hitting the “turbo” button help us… “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)?

Are we afraid to slow down? What do we worry might happen if we were to slow down for a minute?

Well, the number of boxes we get to check off our TO-DO list might decline some. Expressions of sympathy/pity from our friends about just how insanely busy we are would probably decrease also.

But I bet there would also be a significant increase in the SAVORING aspect of life. You know, it is amazing how good those roses actually smell when you’re not zipping past them as quickly as you can.

For many of us who are blessed to have jobs at this time of year, we will find ourselves forced to step back a little… take a breath and relax; to slow down for at least a day or two. My prayer for us today is that we might seize the opportunity given us to dare to SLOW DOWN… to remember that God’s will for each of us is eternal life (in the here and now as well as in the hereafter), and joy, and love.

Now is the perfect season to remember and celebrate God’s real purpose in coming to live with us in flesh and blood and skin and bones… as we read in John’s amazing prologue to his Gospel: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5, NRSV), and in his later writing, “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17, NRSV).

Slow down today and stay slow tomorrow.

Christmas blessings and love to all.

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