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Life shouts, “Hurry up! Hurry up!” when at other times it should tell us to slow down. God’s Word and His Spirit encourage us to avoid being in a hurry and speaking too quickly. So … why don’t we listen?

Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair

Slow down

My mom’s most spoken words to me as a kid were “Slow down!” I rarely did. I still find it hard to slow both my legs and my thoughts. Some days I envy the turtles and snails and even the ugly slugs.

My former garden had slugs. I tried to eradicate the gastropods, but they seemed to multiply like mice. The yucky pests ate me out of lettuce and carrots. But they are beneficial, by clearing an area of dead and dying matter and by helping spread seeds that are in some vegetation.

Related to the slug are snails, among the slowest creatures on earth, traveling about 150 feet an hour. They don’t hop or jump but propel themselves forward by vibrating their one foot. The mucus they produce, probably their most offensive trait, helps them slide forward smoothly, both horizontally and vertically. It also helps protect their soft bodies.

Snails don’t fit well in our fast-paced society. These days, we’re in such a hurry that we like to receive our information in bites or bytes. Many of us tend to skim our newspapers rather than read them word for word. Some of us even finish sentences for people who speak “as slow as a snail.” Our culture has lost the art of listening with both ears rather than with just one. We’ve decided that if we hurry, we can accomplish more. But at what cost?

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to … keep silence and a time to speak …” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7) Perhaps we need to learn when to keep our mouths shut. I encounter people who habitually interrupt others in speech. God forbid, I’m just as guilty.

Slowing down to a snail’s pace means giving up our bragging rights and our negative emotions. Slowing down means choosing to abandon our selfish thoughts for the sake of listening to others. It means keeping our feet on the ground, like the snails, to avoid flying off the anger handle or mentally multitasking. It means to consciously gear down to a slower speed.

The Bible gives us good advice. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Such advice takes practice. With God’s help, we can succeed. With God’s help, we can renew our minds to slow down, like the snail, and still accomplish what we must.

Lord, thank You for offering to show us when to slow down. Teach us what is most important in our lives so we can be Your worthy representatives as we share the Good News of Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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