Is there a Speed Limit to Life?

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Speed. Hurry. We pay a price for the pace at which we live. The late French historian Jacques Ellul commented, “No one knows where we are going, the aim of life has been forgotten, the end has been left behind. Man has set out at tremendous speed–to go nowhere.”

“These days, speed is of the essence,” observes David Sharp of USA Today. “Anything that can’t keep up becomes the cultural equivalent of roadkill.” Yes, the world is going faster. And yes, we in turn are also going faster. But the important question no one asks is this: When does faster become too fast?

Speed breeds dysfunction.

Is there a speed limit to life? What happens when we exceed it? Does God give us a ticket? I have thought long and hard about the issue of speed and have come to believe that it is as much responsible for the problem of personal and societal dysfunction as any other single factor.

God, I suspect, doesn’t fit any better into our breakneck schedules than our children do. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast, and then announce, “Sorry, I’ve got to run.” The trouble is, God’s not running after us. He knows that speed does not yield devotion. He knows that with all our running we’re just opening an ever greater distance between where we’re running to and where He’s waiting for us. I think I would not be far wrong if I were to postulate that our sense of the presence of God is in inverse proportion to the pace of our lives.

Keeping pace with Jesus means slowing down.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus never seemed to hurry? The Bible never says anything about Him running. Apparently, Jesus believed that very little of lasting spiritual or emotional value happens in the presence of speed. Jesus understood that busyness, productivity, and efficiency are speed words, not kingdom words. At times they are appropriate values–but they are never transcendent. Jesus understood that meditation, wisdom, and worship are slow, mellow, and deep.

Is it possible to consciously slow our pace? Of course it is. We just have to say no more often. It is not easy, but it is necessary–and it is right.

Every year the world spins faster. So put on the brakes and obey the speed limit of your soul. The green pastures and still waters yet await us–but not in the direction the treadmill is spinning.


Dive deeper to learn the speed needed to nourish your soul, by reading The Overload Syndrome by Richard A. Swenson, MD.

Overload Syndrome

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