SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST 5 Ways to slow down during Christmas What in the world is all the hurry for? It seems people are running 100 miles per hour in every direction. Almost every day as I drive to and from work, I see people racing down the road like their house is on fire or something. We have all heard ďrace to the red lightĒ! I mean people get irritated when the car in front of them turns on their turn signal knowing they are going to have to slow down and let them turn. They usually whip around them in disgust that they were slowed down. Some are constantly changing lanes back and forth trying to find the fastest lane. Itís unbelievable today. Everything is all about speed and fast now days. At theme parks now you can buy your way to fast with a ďfast passĒ. With that you get to enjoy a shorter line. We used to call that cutting in line, now you buy your way to cut in line. Internet speeds are ridiculous fast compared to 5 years ago. I remember dial-up internet with speeds not even at one mbps speed yet. Now, the slowest speed is around 30 mbps download and is lightning fast. The average speed is now around 100 mbps and is incredibly fast. Day after day and year after year, we humans run faster and faster. We never slow down and continually seek ways to speed up everything we do. We get irritated when there are more than 5 cars at the red light and we may not get through the first light. We complain at slow service where we shop when in reality it was not really slow at all. We race to the red light driving and when we are in a drive-thru window we canít understand what is taking so long and we ream out the person serving us at the window. Is it any wonder that we constantly ask the question where our day went! We blink and we are on the way home from work already and canít figure out what happened. We over plan our calendars, we race around all day at work, we fill up our weekends, and we canít say no to anything people ask of us. We race to church because we woke up late or had a dozen things to do before church then after we race to our favorite restaurant to get there before the crowd does and then we complain because the service was slow and we wonder why we are so irritated and frustrated all the time? So, am I advocating the Mayberry philosophy for life? No, not really although that would not be a bad thing. I am not against speed. In fact, I drive a BMW sports car with engine modifications on a four cylinder that can produce up to 250 horsepower. You want speed, I got it! But, I donít drive like a maniac in town and run people off the road in a hurry. I actually like driving the speed limit or under and take my time when driving most the time. However, get me on a back road and Iíll push it up to 100 mph or more for some fun! I just believe we are driving our lives up to unsafe speeds. What I mean by that is going so fast all the time, will eventually burn us out or wear us out. Let me explain with an illustration about my wifeís grand dad, Merle. Merle lived in the foot hills of the Shawnee Mountains in Illinois on about 10 acres. He was a real cowboy working hard every day, but at a pace much slower that we know or are used to today. Merle, took his time and enjoyed the things around him. He never missed a thing and knew what was going on all around him. This happened after grandma passed away and Merle lived alone. We were staying with Merle for a visit and that morning I was sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee with Merle. You see, Merle was an early riser but then sat around and drank his coffee then cooking some breakfast. He was not in any hurry either. It was getting later in the morning and Merle was just sitting and talking and telling stories. I didnít think we were ever going to get breakfast. My wife decided to go get her shower out of the way since Merle was slow getting started. A short time later my wife walks in the kitchen, in a bath robe, with a towel around her head and told Merle that the shower stopped working right in the middle of it. He turned around and gave a little chuckle at how his granddaughter looked, then stated that the dad-blasted belt on the pump either broke or came off again. He then turned around and started drinking his coffee like nothing had happened. After a few minutes she asked him if he could please fix the pump that she would like to finish her shower; if it wasnít too much to ask. Merle said no problem he would be there shortly and seemed to be in no hurry to fix the pump. Finally after another few minutes, my wife already irritated, Merle goes to fix the pump for her. I was always amazed at what Merle would accomplish in a daysí time. At the end of the day I would many times look back and think how did we do so much and yet enjoy every minute of it? He never rushed! The point is, Merle was in no hurry and was on his own time schedule. We city folks coming in and wanting our shower in a hurry wasnít going to work for him. All the years I knew Merle, I noticed he was never in a hurry, yet accomplished a lot of work. He stopped and talked to people along the way and helped people all the time. He was known all over the county where he was loved for just being a great all-around cowboy. Did you catch that! Merle lived a slow life yet accomplished a lot of work. Today, we think speed is better and that we will accomplish more. Yet, in the long-haul is that really the truth? I realize that during the Apostle Paulís life there was no technology nor modern day inventions or in Jesusís lifetime for that matter. But, look at what Paul accomplished in his journeys to spread the Gospel. Through Paulís journeys he was able to meet hundreds of people and to share about Jesus that would change their life. He was patient, kind, and persistent in his travels. I have heard this many times that to accomplish great things you donít have to work harder but smarter. I believe that to be true to some extent. Paul was smart in how he spread the Gospel and thought through his plans. The only way to work smarter is to slow down and think more. In our day and time, I believe we miss opportunities to help others, to serve others, to meet others, to know others, and to even witness to others. Why? Because we are just going to fast! Christmas is one of the fastest times in our year. There is so much to do; shopping, hanging outside lights, entertaining relatives, getting the house ready, more shopping, Christmas parties, more shopping, and you can see people are just rushing around like crazy. Allow to me to give you 5 ways to slow down this Christmas season and enjoy your surroundings so much more. Talk to people - as you are going, stop and talk to people. When you are shopping at the store, take a few minutes to talk to the clerk or people standing in line. You never know who you will lift up and encourage during a busy time just by making the effort to visit with them along the way. Be aware Ė look around you and be aware of what is going on. Donít be so focused that you miss opportunities around you so serve and help others in need. Maybe there is a super long line at the store and by the time you get to check out the clerk is frustrated. A quick thank you and how is your day going with some encouragement would make their day. Donít over plan Ė you are in control over your calendar and are responsible for it filling up so full. Watch it closely and be open to saying no to extra events that will rob you of valuable time during Christmas. Be intentional Ė Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Make it that way for you and your family and carry that over to others as you go. Donít get so caught up in how others take Christ out of Christmas; just make sure you put Him back in it wherever you go. Prioritize Ė spend your time on what is important to you and your family this Christmas season. Make a plan and include in that plan time to slow down and enjoy life. If you think about, Jesus did all of these 5 things during his time here on earth. Jesus was always talking to others; he was always aware of his surrounding and what was going in with people; his plan was simple; he was intentional in doing the work his Father and not what others wanted or expected him to do; and he knew what his #1 priority was, dying on the cross for our sins that we may be forgiven and made holy. I hope and pray you use these 5 ways to slow down and apply this Christmas season and see what a huge difference it makes in your life. Donít stop there! Start the New Year out by continuing to slow down and live life as God would have you to.