Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Running on Red Line

When was the last time you realized that life was moving too fast? I'm not talking about the kind of day when you rush out the door - coffee in one hand and cell phone in the other - to your next thing. I'm speaking of a season in your life that has become a blur, when the agenda items of a day should be the work load of a week; when the time to sit and ask the "how are you doing, really?" question is squeezed out, or at least reduced to a social convention such that you hope that the answer is simply, "fine, thank you." At these moments, and yes, I'm in one of those right now, the speed of life feels like jamming the accelerator to the floor, into the passing gear that pegs the red line on the tachometer.

This is not a commentary on the quality of those things that fill our day. In my case, the list of items to attend to are good things, mostly Kingdom things. The issue is not discerning between good and bad items. They are all good. Maybe you feel the same. But here's a 4:00am get-out-of-bed-because-your-mind-is-spinning-with-too-many-things-to-sleep thought. Regardless of the positive nature of our "busyness," life was not meant to be lived at the red line.

Quite the opposite, life, at least the way that it seems God intended, ought to move at a different pace. There will always be things to do. But more importantly, there are people to love and moments to capture - the kind of moments that pass like a blurred road-side billboard if you're moving too fast to notice.

A few years ago, a ministry colleague of mine died. His name is Kyle Lake. You may have heard about the incident of his death in that it happened during church one Sunday morning. Kyle was performing a baptism, and due to faulty wiring in the building, Kyle was electrocuted and died. Life came to a screeching halt, and not just for Kyle. Many of us stood in slack-jawed silence at this event. I'm pretty sure the world stopped revolving for a moment just in honor of this shining saint. Though he didn't even live to deliver the sermon he prepared for that morning, his inspired words endure. And on this morning, when I'm overwhelmed by the mountain of things to do, Kyle's words sound as fresh as ever. Here is what he wrote for the sermon on that day:

Live. And live well. Breathe. Breathe in and breathe deeply. Be present. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.

One a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and feel the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun. If you run, then allow those first few breaths of a cool autumn day to freeze your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be alive.

Get knee-deep in a novel and lose track of time. If you bike, pedal hard... and if you crash then crash well. Feel the satisfaction of a job well done - a paper well written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well performed.

If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year old's nose, don't be disgusted if the Kleenex didn't catch it all... because soon he will be wiping his own.

If you've recently experienced loss, then grieve, and grieve well.

At the table with friends and family, laugh. If you're eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then smell. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And taste. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of life. Because it most definitely is a gift.

Important words. Words that slow me down and cause me to pull over to the side of the road, turn off the engine for a bit, and take a walk instead. The mountain of important things are no less important, but they are not the summation of life.

So, if you're one of those precious people waiting for me to get to your item today, please be patient. I'm going for a walk.

Maybe you could use one too?

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