“Everywhere, people are discovering that doing things more slowly often means doing them better and enjoying them more. It means living life instead of rushing through it.” – Carl Honore
Florida has been my home for nearly a quarter of a century now. Like so many hybrid Floridians, I arrived in the land of palm trees and beaches full of mistaken expectations about this paradise. My first bumper sticker read “I wasn’t born in Florida, but I got here as fast as I could.” I quickly learned the local vernacular, like responding to the greeting “How are you doing” with the empty reply “living the dream” or “Just another day in paradise”.
Florida is indeed a delightful place and I really do like living here. Our state is known around the world for its balmy weather. Floridians enjoy 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways. We have 1800 miles of coastline with over 1200 miles of sandy beaches. There are roughly 760 species of wildlife that exist nowhere else in the world. A panther is our state animal and we have the largest population of bald eagles in the Continental USA. Palm trees, beaches and the exotic abound. But for those of us who live, work and raise families here in the Sunshine State, Florida is no Garden of Eden.
Floridians face the same perilous uncertainties as every other traveler on spaceship earth. Many live overloaded and hurried lives. Some haven’t been to a beach in years – decades even. No time for that. Palm trees? At times we hardly notice them. Welcome to paradise lost.
In the early 1990’s Christine Dente & Charlie Peacock (two heavy weights in the inspirational music genre) wrote a song called “Taking My Time”. Three outstanding talents – legends really – Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker and Christine Dente recorded the song which can be found on the album entitled Along the Road. There are just two verses in this song and one thought-provoking repetitive chorus.
Here’s the first verse:
“The world is turnin’
Telling me to hurry on
You gotta run to get ahead
Try to take the things you want
But when the sun begins to set
So many things I haven’t done yet” *
Looking back to when I first heard the song, I remember thinking, “That just about sums it up.” We hurry through our life time, running to get ahead, taking what we want, and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” – Walter Hagen
If I were asked to define modern life in two words, my response would be – hurry and worry – The evil twins. They work together and yet they are at war with each other. Hurry will trouble your heart. Worry will make it afraid. Together, they will ruin your life.
- Hurry always runs out ahead of things; Worry hesitates and lags behind.
- Hurry is often reckless; Worry is overly cautious.
- Hurry sees only those things that speed him on his way; Worry sees only those things that are in the way and therefore are sure to cause a problem.
- Hurry never sees the countless little things that make life truly worth living. Worry sees nothing but countless little things to be afraid of, most of which have nothing to do with your life at all.
- Hurry never thinks about the consequences of making hasty choices. Worry never makes a choice at all – for it might be the wrong one.
And so, these two destructive powers are forever pulling you in opposite directions. God have mercy on the man or woman who is consumed by hurry and worry.
That brings me to the second verse of the song, Taking My Time:
“The weight of worry
is never worth the price
of a world of treasures
that can never satisfy.
But I know Heavens up ahead
where the best is yet to come”*
How simple and yet so insightful. The deceitfulness of materialism is hidden in the false promise of satisfaction at the high price of worry.
“I don’t worry about being in a hurry anymore, because my faith in God will always deliver me right on time.” – Martha Reeves
I can’t put my finger on exactly when it happened. One day, in the midst of all my hurry and worry, I hit a wall. It was a mini-meltdown. I remember thinking – I am so done with this merry-go-round life. I believe in God. I am a follower of the Liberator Jesus. I accept as true the peace that passes all understanding. So, why don’t I seem to have it? It must be my own fault. So I made a decision. I will no longer live my life trying to meet the expectations of others at the expense of the real me.
That day a significant change occurred – a new beginning. I stopped holding on to the handrail firmly at all times; stood up when I wasn’t supposed to and jumped off the ride while it was still in motion. I was now more determined than ever to understand and follow the Divine plan for my life.
So, how am I doing? Good days and bad days. I have been at it long enough now to know what I should do, but sometimes I get it all wrong. No worries though, one of my mentors had the same problem. His name is Paul. He also was a writer. In fact, He penned almost half of the Newer Testament of the Bible. Like me, Paul struggled with the curse of being human. Listen to what he said,
15 “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to””what I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. 17 But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.
18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.
21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; 23-25 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.
So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.” (Romans 7:15-25 TLB)
Do you see the great paradox? We know what to do but we can’t always do it. We know what not to do, but often we do it anyhow. So what’s the point? That question my friends has a very simple answer – Since we cannot meet the standard of Almighty God on our own, we need a knight in shining armor. Enter the Liberator Jesus. He can save us from … well … from ourselves (and the curse of the human condition). That is the message of Christianity in a nutshell.
Through the Liberator Jesus, our creator devised a rescue mission for the lost human race. Jesus came to planet earth to set things right in this life of contradictions where we want to serve God with all our heart and mind, but we are pulled away by the influence of wickedness to do something totally different. He came to set the captives free. He called himself the truth, and promised that to know the truth is to attain genuine freedom on the road to real life!
The paradox of faith is that when we conform our lives to Christ then we gain our true freedom. And its fruit is profound and lasting happiness.” – Vincent Nichols
I’m still trying to get my arms around all of this freedom stuff. But, I have slowed the pace of my life considerably. Less hurry and worry. Breathing deep and enjoying each day – no – each moment. I have a renewed appreciation for my friends and family. I see the beauty once again in a palm tree swaying in the breeze and I make time to enjoy walks along the beach. A seagull sitting on a piling makes me smile. It’s the simple things that keep me going. Do I have questions? Yes, I still have many. But, in due season, God will answer them all.
Oh, I never did share the chorus from that life changing song – Taking My Time. Here it is:
“So I won’t worry
‘Cause there’s no hurry
The world’s not passin’ me by
‘Cause the Lord he knows
Just where each day goes
I know He won’t leave me behind
And I won’t be bringin’ a single thing
That my heart can’t carry inside
Lord, I’m goin’ home
And I’m only takin’ my time“*
To me these words are very therapeutic. I will not worry because there is no hurry. My God knows where each day of this life will lead me. When all is said and done, he won’t leave me stranded. The Liberator Jesus is my way, my truth and the foundation of my life.
Someday, we will all stand before the Divine judge to give an account for our days on spaceship earth. On that date with destiny, we won’t be bringing a single thing – except the record of how we used our time. And so, I leave you with this thought from the pages of the book of life,
15-16 “Be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to. 18 Don’t drink too much wine, for many evils lie along that path; be filled instead with the Holy Spirit and controlled by him.” (Ephesians 5:16-18 TLB)
Almighty God, Creator of life throughout the Universe, please help me to make the most of every opportunity. I heard you call me today. Here I am. Show me the way. You have brought me this far. Guide me forward now. I want to know what the Liberator Jesus came here for. Help me to break free from the chains that bind me. Lead me and guide me into the truth that is found in The Liberator Jesus. Amen.
* © 1994 Sparrow Song / Andi Beat Goes On Music (BMI)
You can listen to the song “Taking My Time” here: https://youtu.be/0uKlOoCI7S0
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656