Monday, January 28, 2013

Be A Tortoise

We are all familiar with Aesop's fable involving the hare and the tortoise and their race.  The hare dashed out with all speed, gained a huge lead, and then laid down on the side of the road for a nap.  The tortoise plodded along at his slow, steady pace..never stopping until he had finished in first place.  The moral of the story is slow and steady wins the race.

Too often I am like the hare when approaching my daily tasks.  I get up, full of energy, and work like a mini hurricane for a few hours.  And then I stop.  I sit down to read a chapter, or check out one thing on the computer, or to just rest a few minutes.  I am usually worn out, a little stressed, and the feeling of being overwhelmed is lurking somewhere nearby.  The short break I was going to take turns into a hour and a half of wasted time.  So I jump back up and run around some more working fast and furiously.  I get tired.  I stop to rest and the next thing I know it is time to make supper.  I fly around the kitchen, throwing supper together, get everyone fed  and I stop.  So when I go to bed at night, the kitchen is dirty, the house has toys and the rest of the evening's activities strewn around, and I go to bed feeling like I worked all day to accomplish nothing.  I am a hare.

Instead, I should be a tortoise   I should work at a slow, steady pace on each task and should not stop until that task is finished.  I should not burn up my energies in a bright flash of productivity, but I should run at a slow burn that will last all day long.

I have a cousin in law whose great grandfather lived to be 114.  He was born in the late 1700's and died in the early 1900's.  He quit farming in his early hundreds even though he could still out work some of the field hands.  When asked the secret to long life he said, "Just take half a shovel at a time."  By that he meant that you don't lift as much or run as fast as you can, but that you lift a reasonable amount at a reasonable pace and your body is not broken down by over exertion.  Half a shovel full, all day long, will accomplish more than a whole shovel for a few hours with a long break in between.

It is like the man who lived in the city and was in a hurry to get to church.  He was running behind, and he pulled up behind an older brother from the church who was known for his slow pace on the highway.  Our harried brother whips into the other lane and passes our slow brother, only to be stopped at the traffic light.  The two are side by side, waiting for the light to change, and they wave at each other.  The light turns and our speedy brother stomps on the gas and flies up to the next red light.  The slow brother eases up beside him and smiles and waves.  The light turns and speedy races off again, and is stopped again by a light.  And the slow brother eases up again, and waves and smiles again.  This continues all the way through town until they arrive at the church one after the other.  They arrive at the same place, about the same time, but consider their journeys.  One was filled with stress, frustration, and exasperation  the other with relaxation  ease, and probably some amusement.

Slow and steady wins the race.  I want to be a tortoise   Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus.  With patience.  Slow and steady.  Not idle, but steady.  Be a tortoise.

image from wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Half a shovel full all day long. I think you are right!