I’ve been reading a book on the life of Fred “Mr.” Rogers. The very first chapter recalls that every episode of his show opened with a shot of a flashing yellow traffic light. Why? To communicate that it was time to slow down. Ever wonder why Mr. Rogers moved and spoke so slowly? To help viewers slow down and relax. (1)
The yellow light grabbed me. I admit that, even now1` in ‘retirement’, I need to keep working at slowing down. That’s why it’s a repetitive theme in the Bible. “For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord” (Exodus 31:15). “Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him” (Psalm 37:7 The Message). “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1 NLT). “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (Isaiah 30:15). “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
I believe God has placed a yellow light in front of us – a light we need to see now. There is no better time than during these days of ‘stay at home’ to get back to, or to establish, a life of resting. The reports of the fears and impact of being home bound point to our desperate need for rest. We must heed God’s yellow light and learn to rest. And the longer we’re ‘in’ the longer we have to establish habits of living slowly and resting. And the longer we have to establish them the stronger they will be when we are free to return to the world that made us live so fast in the first place.
This world, with all its busyness and forces that work against us, often overwhelms and drowns us. That’s precisely why we need to slow down. Consider this. “If you ever fall into quicksand, the most important thing to remember is this: take your time. Quicksand, unlike water, will not move out of the way to let you pass. Instead, it resists movement. Flailing about will only cause you to sink deeper. But slowly it gets you to shore.” (2)(3)
Why not let this time of forced slow down teach you to voluntarily slow down? Live by the yellow light and make it safely to shore.
(Note: I am keenly aware that for many this time is far from a slow down time. They are busy on the front lines for the rest of us. To all of them – and perhaps it’s you – I offer my sincere thanks and offer up my sincere prayers. May our Lord bring rest and peace to your souls and health to your bodies.)
(1) “The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers”, Amy Hollingsworth, Thomas Nelson, 2005, p.1
(3) Picture from Washington Examiner, 8/1/19