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June 18, 2019

There are many wonderful things about being part of a ministry that takes us to Europe and the Middle East two or three times a year.  We don’t go as tourists anymore.  We do work which we love, work that’s in both Debbie’s and my sweet spot.  It’s still work, though.  If you’re one of our prayer and/or financial partners, thank you so much for making this work possible for us.

Spending the last two weeks in Central Europe has reminded me of how much I’ve been in a hurry lately.  It’s not that people in Central Europe don’t hurry.  They do.  They hurry to get to the train or bus.  They sometimes hurry up or down the escalators.  Taxis are always in a hurry. But when they’re just walking from point A to point B, they generally don’t hurry.  When they eat a meal, they never hurry.    And that’s what got my attention.

I don’t think of myself as a hurry-up-and-get-er-done kind of guy anymore.  I used to be, but I’ve slowed down considerably.  A heart attack has a way of doing that to a guy.  To this guy, anyway.  My calendar gets far less jammed with back-to-back meetings and appointments.  I don’t jam my evenings full.  I actually schedule in travel time.  I still walk faster than my wife, Debbie, but I don’t walk as fast as I used to.  Unless I’m trying to catch a bus, or train, or get to a gate for a flight.  Which isn’t as often as you might think.

When I was recovering from my heart attack, I couldn’t hurry.  I mean, I physically couldn’t.  If the house had caught fire, I probably wouldn’t have survived.  I just didn’t have the physical steam to hurry.  It worked out pretty well since I didn’t have anywhere to go.

I couldn’t drive for most of 2 months after my “critical incident.”  The first time I drove, I was like a little old man jamming traffic in the left lane.  Going 40 felt like going 75.  It was weird.  A sensation I don’t think I’ve ever felt.

My driving style changed a lot.  I used to exceed the speed limit, consistently.  Maybe not every time I was on the freeway, but I was usually 5 mph or more over the speed limit.  I was always running behind, and it always felt like I had to hurry to try and make up the time.

My 6 months of not hurrying stuck with me, though.  When I started driving again, I decided I would drive the speed limit.  This means I almost always have to drive in the right-hand lane.  You know, the SLOW LANE.  I did some math and realized that if I’ve got 10 or so miles to drive, I would have to go “faster than a speeding bullet” to make up more than a few seconds by driving over the speed limit.  Lots of times the car I shot past on the freeway would show up right behind me at a traffic light.  Funny how that works.

So why am I writing about speeding?  Because I think many people (maybe most people) try to live their lives at too fast a pace.  They cram more into their schedule than anybody other than the Flash could accomplish, and they scramble from one place to the next at warp speed, always behind, often frazzled.  They live in the deficit.  They hack away at their to-do list all day long at the speed of sound, and still end the day with more left to do on their list.  Some days it feels like the list just spontaneously multiplies.

I could go on and on about this, but I’m guessing you don’t need me to.  I probably just read your mail.

Years ago I read one of the most pivotal books I’ve ever read, entitled, Margin, by Richard Swenson.  He makes a case for the fact that when you hurry, you hurt yourself (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and everyone in your life.  We hurry because we leave ourselves with no margin.  It’s a reason, but not an excuse.  If you’re looking for a good book, this is one worth your time.  It doesn’t just spank you.  It gives some great tips for how to create and maintain margin in your life.

There are many implications connected to hurry.  Most of them are negative.  The one I want to poke you with today is that when you’re in a hurry, you don’t have time to slow down and actually be present.  You’re always late for your next thing, and thinking about it, not the moment you’re in or the person you’re with.  You know, the person you’re supposed to be there for.

Not all people struggle with this.  My personal, anecdotal estimate is that 10% of the population doesn’t suffer from hurry.  They suffer from it’s opposite.  They slow the rest of the world down, but not in the positive way I would like.  They don’t need to slow down.  They’d be standing dead still if they did.  The rest of us – the 90% – need to take a page from their book, though.  The rest of us suffer from the hurry disease.  And some of have a terminal case of it.

As a spouse, you’ve got to slow down so you can show up for your husband or wife.  As a parent, you’ve got to slow down so you can show up for your kids.  As a human being, you’ve got to slow down for life.  If you don’t slow down, you’ll sprint right past the things in life that really matter.  You’ll miss the gifts your spouse, your kids, your friends, your associates would otherwise give you.

To paraphrase what I once heard from Dr. Howard Hendricks, “I’ve never been with a dyeing man and heard him say, ‘I just wish I had been in more of a hurry…'”  I have known lots of people who leave this world full of regret for the things they didn’t get to do because they just didn’t have time for them.

News flash: in your life, you will only have time for the things you make time for.  You have to say no to some things so you can say yes to the other things.  Time is like money.  You only get to spend it once.  If you don’t plan how you’ll spend your money, you’ll end up bankrupt.  The same thing will happen to your soul if you don’t plan how you’ll spend your time.

So slow down.  Make time.  Say no to things that matter less so you can say yes to the things that matter most.  Slow down so you can show up.

From → Marriage

  1. Dana Leong permalink

    Being retired helps. It’s just myself and my husband and a ton of critters. In the evening, I sit on the couch with my bunny and my dog and we just watch TV. During the day, my husband and I eat out (lunch is our main meal), and either walk or swim. We get our errands done and then the evening, we just hang out. BTW my husband is 83 and I’m 66!

  2. Dureen permalink

    Going through times of ill health has helped us to realize the truth in your message and slowing down has increased the appreciation of everything we truly value. God has a way of impacting our lives for the better if we slow enough to recognize.

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