Life on Fast Forward

YOU HAVE ONLY A HALF-HOUR lunch break, and you’re washing down a protein bar with an energy drink as you push through maddeningly slow city traffic on your way to have your metal-on-metal brakes checked at the repair shop down the street.

Let’s see, now—you have a committee meeting at 1 p.m., a blizzard of phone calls to return, and two carved-in-stone deadlines to meet before you stagger home late with a crammed-full briefcase to a family you hardly see anymore and a house and yard begging for your attention. Your “To Do” list is longer than the white pages, you’re a walking zombie from lack of sleep, and you haven’t had time in ages to balance your checkbook or pay all your past-due bills.

Welcome to the biggest club on earth: the fraternity of the overloaded, the sorority of the stressed-out, the legions of the overwhelmed with Too Much to Do and Not Enough Time to Do It—the fellowship of those who must Do More and Do It Faster just to run in place on a steadily accelerating treadmill. Welcome to a society fueled by caffeine and adrenaline. Welcome to life on permanent Fast Forward. Welcome to a world that has forgotten how to stop and smell the roses.

Look around you. Nearly everybody seems to be in a huge rush—walking fast, talking fast, eating fast. People race through the day at breakneck speed, repeatedly pressing elevator call buttons that are already lighted, finishing each other’s sentences, impatient with even the fastest computers, multi-tasking to get more done in less time, driven by what author Charles Hummel called “the tyranny of the urgent.”

“Instantaneity rules,” writes James Gleick in Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. “Instant coffee, instant intimacy, instant replay, and instant gratification.”

People are pushed, rushed, stressed, exhausted, hurried, frazzled—and the price is frighteningly high. In the juggling act between jobs and family, families usually come out second best. Surveys show that working mothers average between 80 and 90 hours of housework, child care, and employment per week.

In his book The Overload Syndrome, Richard Swenson quotes a mother of four from LaGrange, Illinois, as saying, “I’m so tired, my idea of a vacation is a trip to the dentist. I just can’t wait to sit in that chair and relax.” And fathers too are working more than ever. Says one: “Either I can spend time with my family, or support them—not both.”

Marriages are strained to the breaking point. Children are increasingly left home to fend for themselves as both parents work—and even when parents are home, they are often so exhausted from overwork they have little energy left for their children.

In the middle of all this insanity—all this hurrymania, all this frantic, exhausting going and working and doing and buying, God has a better idea. He reminds us that “being” is more important than “doing” or “having.” He calls us to “Come aside . . . and rest a while.” Mark 6:31. He confronts us with our need to recheck our priorities. Is work more important than family? Are things more important than people? Is getting ahead more important than good health?

God invites us to live simpler, more balanced lives. He invites us to slow down and take our cues from the leisurely pace of nature itself. He invites us to step off the frenzied treadmill most of the world is on, to pull over into the slow lane, to make do with less to become rich in the things that really matter.

We have a choice: We can either run with the masses—with the rushing sea of lemmings headed for the cliff to plunge into disaster—or we can reject the distorted values all around us and take time, make time, for what’s really important.

Time to sit on a porch and watch the setting sun. Time to read a good book. Time to watch a squirrel hiding a nut. Time to put a puzzle together with the kids. Time to build something special with our spouse. Time to eat right, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Time for vacations and hobbies and volunteering our help. Time to feed our souls. Time to truly live.

Simplicity. Balance. Patience. Rest. Reordered priorities. God’s way off the frenetic treadmill. God’s way to health and happiness. God’s cure for the stressed and exhausted.

Tyrannized by the urgent? Take back your life. Try God’s way. And you’ll discover to your wonder and delight that you have all the time you need, to do what really needs doing!


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