If you drive regularly in southern California you have had the following experience. In the words of the Men’s Warehouse CEO: “I guarantee it!”
You’re driving on the freeway and, even though it’s called a “freeway,” your lane is at a standstill and you are not moving at all. The lanes to your right and left are cruising along but yours is at a dead stop. Wanting to speed along to your destination, you decide to change lanes even though it could be dangerous. You are at a dead stop and you have to get up to the speed of the lane you are moving into. You want to get to your destination and, being a southern California driver, you get ready to make the change. You become consumed with seeking the fast lane. Your foot hangs just above the accelerator, your hands tremble on the steering wheel, and your eyes are glued to your side-mirror looking for that elusive open space between two cars. Then it’s there – you slam the pedal to the floor, turn your wheel sharply and shoot out into the other lane. The person in the car behind you in your new lane makes some not-nice motions with his hand because he had to slow down and he also wants to speed along to his destination. You smile to yourself and then the incredible happens; your new lane comes to a dead stop and the lane you vacated is now cruising along and your smile fades as you see the car which was behind you in your original lane rolling by. Perhaps you would have been better off remaining in your original lane, turning on the classical music station, and enjoying the music in the midst of the starting and stopping that happens in every lane, regardless of your destination. While switching lanes sometimes gains you a few minutes, as often as not the amount of time you save is negligible. Yet we continue to seek the fast lane.
We are tempted to try to seek the fast lane in our spiritual lives as well. The Christian has both an ultimate goal and a proximate goal. The ultimate goal, of course, is life eternal in the presence of the Lord. The proximate goal is spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is a process which is often slow, messy, inconsistent, and sometimes painful. Being Americans (and southern Californians) we can be pushed into seeking the fast lane to spiritual maturity. This leads us to put our hope in the next conference, the next book, the next Christian celebrity or the next program – a change to the fast lane – to launch us ahead to great heights of spiritual maturity. Invariably this leads to disappointment. We may have a short spurt of spiritual energy but it is not lasting and our fast lane to spiritual maturity has now become part of the slow lane that we were in before we made the move.
Living the glory of the grind is believing that God’s grace and purpose are being worked-out in the slow and messy inconsistency of our spiritual growth and maturity. We are on the way to the destination He has planned for us in the time and the manner He has planned for us to get there. Experience His grace in the process without seeking a fast lane. And the next time you are on the freeway at a dead stop, think twice before shooting into what appears to be a fast lane. Maybe you will be better for it. Maybe it will even remind you of this blog!