Monday, November 10, 2014

Slow Down in the Little Things

"Do you know how fast you were going?" asked the state trooper as she leaned down to face me through the passenger window of my car.  Swallowing hard before I answered, I made a split second decision to tell the truth.  "I was doing 45 in a 35, right?"  I could barely look at the clock as the gruff but direct woman waited for my driver's license and registration.  Watching her walk back to the SUV and its blaring blue and red lights, I started to panic and wondered if I would make it to my office in enough time to prepare for my communications class at the university.  But my personal anxiety attack was short lived when suddenly a voice much louder than the one in my head boomed through the window.

"I see you have a habit of driving fast in low speed zones.  You do this once or twice a year! Do you have children who drive with you?  You do realize they are paying attention to you?  Where are you going in such a rush this morning? Speeding on back roads is just as dangerous as on the highway--would you like the statistics?"

And with those questions, my panic melted into tears as I explained I really wasn't in a rush I just didn't think I was going that fast and my mind was on the lecture I was preparing for my upcoming class.  In between sobs I said I did have teenagers who are now driving and that more than anything I wanted to be a good example to them.  The state trooper was silent for a moment before she handed back my documents and then firmly said to me, "I don't think another ticket is going to make a difference for you.  You have a family, you have a job and you have a car--you have a big life but you need to slow down in the little things."

Several moments later, I pulled into a nearby parking lot to completely feel everything that just happened to me. Here's what I saw:  I often think that prioritizing my life means to get as much done as I can in a little amount of time so that I can be my best for God, for my family, my job, and ministry.  But the amount of stress and expectation I place upon myself causes me to take a blind eye to a little thing like driving 35 miles per hour, not 45, when the sign says 35 MPH.  I reviewed the big plans I had that day for my students--the kind of big things that get me excited to meet with them.  In my enthusiasm and excitement, the pace of my life picked up enough speed that I missed the sign to slow down.

On time and a bit subdued, I stood in front of 50 college students an hour later sketching out our time together.  God wasn't telling me I was doing too much or that I shouldn't think big; he was acting as my Father by giving me perspective on how and why I needed to slow down in the little things.  I have to really want this.  If I just rely on my gut instincts, I will convince myself I'm invincible and will rush through life, constantly being pulled over with warnings.  The pace of my life matters.  The choices I make to keep my pace matter.  Learning to follow Jesus in my calling and passions with an eternal perspective matters.  It's in the little things where the big things are at stake.

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