I went to the post office this week and was there when it opened. I was the second person in line that day. This was going to be quick, I thought. This was the second of four errands before arriving home to start work. I only needed postage for a letter.
The postage owed was .75 cents.
I am not sure why I didn’t use coins, but I put my debit card in the machine out of habit and was told, “You put the card in too early. Please take it out until I tell you.”
On the second try, I put my card in at the correct time, but found myself struggling to read the screen instructions. As I scrambled for my reading glasses, I pulled my card out because I thought it said the transaction was approved.
This time I was told, “You took your card out too early.” I was so embarrassed! What a troublesome customer I was being. Others were now standing in line behind me, eager to knock out their quick errand at the post office as well. Unfortunately, my premature card retraction caused a problem.
My clerk’s system froze.
Nothing could be done. As eyes of those in line glared at my back, my clerk had to shut her computer down and reboot.
It took a while.
A manager arrived at another computer and began servicing people in line. While doing so, she periodically shouted from the other end of the counter, “Are you up yet?” “No, not yet,” my person kept responding. I was feeling a bit mortified. I confess thinking, “Who creates a system as sensitive as this? I can’t be the only person who has pulled her card out too early.”
Finally, my postage was paid and I headed out to the car without looking back at anyone. As I reflected on what happened, I had to face the fact that when I err, it is most often because I act too quickly and actually slow my progress down. I rush. I can get ahead of myself.
I can get ahead of God.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
I have been working really hard for several years now at living each day well. I am still regularly praying to God in the morning, “Lord, may I live well for you today, (then name the date), because I will never live it again.” On some days I have tasted the deep satisfaction of laying my head on the pillow having lived a day well by walking with God. The post office event revealed room for improvement, however, and renewed my commitment to better live each moment well.
Moments like this:
- My son is talking to me, and I don’t look up from my phone.
- I am talking on the phone with a friend on speaker and answer a text.
- I am prompted to stop and pray but a task needs to get done, so I pray less concertedly while doing the task.
The multi-tasking must stop.
Several times this week I watched children scrolling on their phones while someone was talking to them. Such multi-tasking is common these days. I commented, “Please put the phone down. The brain cannot do two cognitive activities at the same time.”
I teach my children and students that we can chew gum while composing an e-mail because chewing gum is not a cognitive activity, but we cannot compose an e-mail and watch television, since both writing and listening are cognitive activities. Our brain is toggling back and forth, not writing and listening simultaneously.
I have read many books about Corrie ten Boom. One was written by her caretaker of many years. I remember her describing how Corrie would do one thing at a time. She would not sip tea while she looked at flowers in her garden, for example. She would first enjoy her tea and then enjoy gazing at her flowers. I am willing to bet she enjoyed her tea and flowers more than you and I doing both at the same time. I caught myself picking up my bible last week while I was listening to a podcast because I planned to do both at the same time!
I caught myself, don’t worry.
What I do worry about is knowing I am not alone in the rushing. I suspect you are rushing too. As Corrie famously said, If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy. The technologies are calling our name, aren’t they? Friends are asking for our time. Our jobs demand our constant attention. Our family members call us. Our errands must be run.
Amidst the beckoning, let’s resist rushing.
I just got back from a wonderful trip to visit my parents. I truly concentrated on being with them and serving them. Now that I am home, I am so glad I made many decisions to be fully present in many moments because I cannot get any of those days back. They are gone forever like a fleeting shadow.
Let’s live each moment well. In doing so, we will live the day well, which in turn leads to living years well, and ultimately a lifetime.
Let’s stay in step with the spirit and not get ahead of God.
Picture Explanation: I took each of these pictures on one 45 minute walk this week. I savored every minute, and at one point I cried. This marks only the second time in my life that scenery has moved me to tears. What have I missed in all the rushing? What have you missed?
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