Recently I acquired a 31-year old Honda Civic. Puttering around town in this car gives one an experience of nostalgia, of simplicity, of slowness. With about 42 horsepower on tap, in two months of ownership I have passed a total of one other driver. At least once daily somebody rides my bumper and then shoots ahead in a mad rush of speed. It’s not that I don’t want to pass or go faster; it is simply just not possible to do. This reality has altered my driving style, and has inspired much thought lately on the benefits of not being in a rush.
I think that most of us are in a rush. I myself am predisposed to hurry. In my younger years I ran sub-six minute miles. I have a love for fast cars. Before pastoring, I worked in retail management at the Augusta Mall for five years. I have four children who can make life quite full, and quite busy. I live in a world where there is too much to do, where rest seems rare, where productivity and efficiency are capital, where the slow are left behind.
But that may not be all bad. The Bible repeatedly encourages us to stop and smell the roses. Psalm 131 has been on my mind a lot lately. King David of old, who had many reasons to be in a rush, writes this: “O Lord, my eyes are not lofty, nor do I go after great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child rests upon his mother.”
The great King David, the giant-slayer, gives me permission today to chill out. This man of great achievement is able to see his limitations and value peace over hurry. God surely calls us to be ambitious, but ambition without contentedness leads to the never-ending rat race of life in America as we know it.
Rush upon rush invites a life of anxiety and unfulfillment. There will always be a faster car. There will always be a better job. There will always be a nicer house. There will always be more to do. But how full of things does my life have to be before I can slow down and start enjoying them? Because of this rush, we heap trouble upon ourselves.
Blaise Pascal says this well: “All of men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” A car ride without the radio on, a week without Facebook, a quiet evening without television or internet, not answering every text or phone message immediately – these things could slow us and create room in our lives for things that are much more valuable.
Years ago I worked for a time with disabled children in an occupational therapy clinic. I will never forget Curt. Curt was 8 years old and had cerebral palsy. He could barely move around, but when I came in the room to start our exercises, Curt became the happiest human on the planet. He had nobody to impress and nothing to prove. Just being was enough for him. I will never forget that.
“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh said that, and he’s my hero. I may sound like a fool, but I know what it is like to rush about. Today I am thankful for my slow car – I may be the last guy home from work, but I may be the happiest.