Life in the Slow Lane

      Comments Off on Life in the Slow Lane

To listen to today’s reflection as a podcast, click here
A few years ago, a newspaper in Tacoma, Washington, noted that a local basset hound named Tattoo had gone for an evening run.
That may not sound like front page material until you consider the unusual circumstances.
As John Ortberg reports in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Tattoo’s master had accidentally closed the car door on his leash, leaving the dog outside and in serious need of keeping up.  A motorcycle cop spotted the car with what looked like a brown and white object trailing behind.  He promptly gave chase.
The policeman later said about Tattoo, “He was picking them up and putting them down as fast he could.”
The car had reached about 25 miles per hour, and Tattoo had even executed a couple of U.S. gymnastics-worthy somersaults, before the cop finally got the driver’s attention and signaled him to stop.  Amazingly, the hound emerged from all the excitement unscathed.
Not surprisingly, though, Tattoo didn’t ask to go on an evening walk for a very long time.
So how about you?  Have you been picking them up and putting them down as fast you can in recent weeks?
You’re not alone. 
The accelerating pace of life in our culture is unprecedented.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Shortly after World War II, experts predicted that Americans were on the verge of entering a brave new world of leisure.  Automated machines and wonderful new appliances promised liberation from drudgery at home and at work.  During the 1950s sociologists even established an institute to prepare for the dangerous excess of “down time” in our society.  What would people do with all that freedom?
We’ve never had the chance to find out.
The American workweek has actually grown longer.  Average leisure time has shrunk from 26 to 16 hours per week.  Recent surveys reveal that one-fifth of American workers take no vacation at all.  Many confess terror that if they leave their work stations for a few days, someone will have replaced them when they returned.  What happened?
We can’t blame the time-saving machines.  They showed up ahead of schedule and have overwhelmingly exceeded everyone’s expectations. 
For all too many of us, the problem is a deep emotional dependence on doing instead of being in order to experience the Good Life.
Deep inside, we may be up against a raw hunger that says, “Don’t stop.  Feed me with more busyness.  If you slow down, you’ll fall behind and you’ll feel horrible.  If you go faster, you can finish that stack of work, and then you’ll feel great.”
But it’s a lie.  Whenever I finish that stack of work, it’s not enough.  I feel empty.  More often than not I try to fill that void with another stack of work.
The pace of life that makes me “pick them up and put them down” as fast as I can day after day – putting all of my relationships at risk – isn’t just an emotional illness.  It’s a spiritual illness.
To the tired, the disillusioned, the frantic, and the spiritually parched, Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
In planned, restful times in the presence of God, our worlds may not become less busy, but they will become less hurried.  And that makes all the difference.
Gradually we will discover that everything in the world doesn’t depend on our performance.  It will dawn on us that we can’t do everything we think we have to do, but that we do have the time and the resources to accomplish everything God has called us to do.
Is it possible to enter into such a healthier work-life balance? 
God assures us it is.
And Tattoo, for one, would be grateful if we were to choose to slow things down.