The Art of Slowing Down
By Henry Leung
The light is red. Elderly gentleman on your right. Soccer mom with van full of kids to your left. “Vroom… vroom…” the Red dims and Green illuminates. Suddenly, you grow a lead foot and you channel your inner Speed Racer, going from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. Only… that same lead foot smashes the brakes because the next light turns red. And slowly, the same Cadillac pulls up to your right. Soccer mom pulls up to your left.
I live approximately 10 miles from church. On a Sunday morning when I’m running just a tad late… instead of the Speed Limit… (which is a regulation, not a recommendation), I’ll lightly lean in on the gas pedal in hopes of getting there faster! Well, here’s some farmer’s math for you…
At a rate of 60 mph, it takes me 10 minutes to travel 10 miles.
At a rate of 65 mph, it takes me 9.2 minutes to go 10 miles.
At a rate of 70 mph, it takes me 8.6 minutes to go the same 10 miles.
And just for giggles… going an average of 75 mph earns me 8 minutes. It might even earn me a speeding ticket, all for shaving 2 minutes off the commute time.
A few weeks ago, my kids went through Promotion Day, where at the end of the school year, they were promoted to the next grade. Symbolically, the entire class moves from one section of the auditorium to the next section where they’ll sit for the next school year. At events like this, one naturally thinks back and says… “My little baby….I was just changing his/her diapers…I just taught them how to ride a bike… I just went to the DMV to get his/her license.” And before you know it, you’re walking your little girl down the aisle and have the feeling of regret…“This happened way too fast.”
What is it with culture nowadays? This culture of instant gratification. This culture of on-demand. Whatever happened to “stop and smell the flowers?”
Taking a page from our Italian brethren, who instead of inhaling their dinner, as we so often do, they start dinner at sundown and literally have dinner for several hours. It’s not about fulfilling a humanoid necessity. To them, dinner is about laughter, libations, and good company. They truly enjoy the entire dining experience. Thinking back to our Christian life, are we keeping our focus on the destination, and neglecting the journey?
Deep down, I want God to answer my prayer so I can move on. But perhaps my prayer isn’t answered yet because God the Father wants to have a longer conversation with me.
Deep down, I want that elusive friend of mine to say that timeless “Sinner’s Prayer” so I can move onto the next candidate. But maybe God isn’t so much interested in my conversion rate but He wants me to build up that relationship through hiking trips, weekend getaways and cups after cups of Starbucks coffee.
Deep down, I want to speed through my daily devotional time and squeeze 1-2 highlights out of the Bible passages and use that throughout the day. But I seem to forget…that my daily devotional time isn’t about how fast I can read, but it’s about spending time with Abba.
(SPOILER ALERT) Our ultimate destination is to forever reign with God in Heaven. Now that we know that’s where we’ll end up… how about we stop and smell the flowers and enjoy this journey? How about we slow down? Next time you have a conversation with the checkout lady, stare into her soul and connect. Next time you’re drinking coffee, try inhaling, swirl and gargle before you swallow. Next time you hear a joke, laugh out loud and snort a few times. Next time you’re standing in the kitchen, grab your spouse and slow dance to the sounds of passing traffic. Next time you’re reading through your Bible… dare to read through it again.
There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. But if you’re going too fast, you’re likely to miss it. As one car commercial so perfectly puts it, “Make the journey your destination.” Slow down…seize the moment… and truly relish what lies before you. As for the destination, you have an eternity to enjoy that.