Ain't No Rest For the Wicked

Life in the Fast Lane…

“Voices surround us, always telling us to move faster. It may be our boss, our pastor, our parents, our wives, our husbands, our politicians, or, sadly, even ourselves. So we comply. We increase the speed. We live life in the fast lane because we have no slow lanes anymore. Every lane is fast, and the only comfort our culture can offer is more lanes and increased speed limits. The result? Too many of us are running as fast as we can, and an alarming number of us are running much faster than we can sustain.”

― Michael Yaconelli

Life in the fast lane, Surely makes you lose your mind

Life in the fast lane, huh

Life in the fast lane, Everything all the time

Life in the fast lane,

— The Eagles

I am going to give you the answer to one of my “security questions.” To recover a lost or forgotten password or to log in from a new computer, some web sites ask you to answer a question from a selection of standard questions. I avoid using my mother’s maiden name because the “O’ “ causes confusion. So when I can, I use “What was the first concert you attended?” and the answer is “Eagles.”

The Eagles now hold the record for most selling album of all time, “Eagles— Their Greatest Hits” at 38 million copies. And they hold third place with “Hotel California” at 26 million. Which brings me to the point I want to make. I find it interesting when an artist, reflecting on our culture, sees the same things as religious leaders do (and as I do.)

The quote from Mike Yaconelli (now sainted) comes from his experience writing youth oriented resources (Youth Specialties.) He also pastored a small church in northern California. The writing credits for “Life in the Fast Lane” are given to Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and Don Henley. I won’t provide all the lyrics as they aren’t quite suitable for the church newsletter, but the idea of pace and intensity of modern life and the trap that it snares people in is pretty apparent.

The difficulty church has in this regard is that, as part of the culture, its easy to confuse engagement with the culture with conformance to it. The church’s job is to be non-conforming to the culture! We call out the culture for its idolatry of time and standards of success (the one who dies with the most toys wins!) We call the culture to repent of such misuse of God’s creation and present a different approach and ideal.

I’ve mentioned over the years my irritation with the standard ministry questions that revolve around the three Bs: Buildings, Budgets and Bottoms (…in the pews.)

When I am asked “How many people do you worship?” I always answer, “One.”

When I am asked “what does your church do?” I always answer, “it forgives sin.”

That leads to the follow up, “Well, yes, but what does it DO?”

“It proclaims Christ crucified.” I answer.

Most of the time my exhortation is simple, “Relax, God is in charge and you are not. And that’s a good thing.”

To be fair, this church does a lot. But its not work to keep busy. Its the work that reveals Christ to our community. You cannot preach salvation by grace through faith and then take on a to do list without undoing the lesson. Its the open space in print that defines the characters. Its the white space in a black and white photograph that allows the black to define its form. It’s the quiet and slow parts of our faith that empower the active.

It couldn’t be more obvious: God was not willing to work seven out of seven days but set aside one day out of seven so that we could rest with him.

A Stop at the Rest Area

“Spiritual growth is not running faster, as in more meetings, more Bible studies, and more prayer meetings. Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down. If we want to meet Jesus, we can't do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest stop. While the church earnestly warns Christians to watch for the devil, the devil is sitting in the congregation encouraging everyone to keep busy doing "good things.”

― Michael Yaconelli

You know that I love to drive on vacation. It’s not that I always pull out of the driveway, pick a direction, then drive until the road ends in a body of water and I can drive no more. It has just often been true.

As I am getting older I don’t drive as aggressively as I once did. I also now avoid driving at night. I find myself much more willing to start out a bit later and stop in a bit earlier. Along the way we take more rest stops. Sometimes its a defined Rest Area on the interstate. Sometimes its a Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. My favorite places to stop are the small town parks you find when you are on a rural highway. These are the pride of small towns everywhere. Out west, these are the only green places around as they are watered. When the kids were smaller the playgrounds gave a place to get exercise and sun and fresh air. Lunch on a picnic table in the shade is wonderfully relaxing.

Often, the county seat parks will be bigger and feature an outdoor municipal pool and a couple of camping spots. If they can keep you overnight in their small town you might just buy some gas and some groceries or a meal! You are invited and welcome to spend some time.

You may notice that I try to encourage our worship services to have times of quiet built into them. Its important to start things on time, yet there are times when someone is sharing a hurt or concern and that causes me to be a few minutes behind. People have to know they are more important than the clock. I am also conscious of not rushing the liturgy, especially the Service of the Sacrament. I want to set up a pattern of being willing to spend time with Jesus.

Rest for All Who Are Tired

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father. You are Lord of heaven and earth. You have hidden these things from wise and educated people. But you have shown them to little children. Yes, Father. This is what you wanted to do.

“My Father has given all things to me. The Father is the only one who knows the Son. And the only ones who know the Father are the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to make him known.

“Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. Serving me is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:25-30

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