I was out for a ride recently in rural Georgia, south of the suburban community in which I live. Returning home, my route took me up Georgia 85, a fairly busy road which typically collects more traffic as one travels north toward the suburbs.
This particular day I was rolling along at about 55 mph, pretty much keeping pace with the stated speed limit. No one was behind me, so I knew I wasn't detaining the more harried among the populace, nor was I overtaking anybody. It was me, my pickup, and an open road on an early fall morning. The picture of tranquility, if you ask me.
A quick glance in my rearview showed I suddenly had company in the form of a motorcyclist. Clearly, he was zipping along well in excess of the speed limit as he'd appeared so quickly. And, it was obvious he wished I wasn't around as he was pulled up nice and tight to my bumper. It wouldn't have been a pretty sight if I'd been forced to slam on brakes.
He wasn't there long, however. Double yellow lines weren't meant for others, I guess, as he roared past me while ascending a hill as the sight line decreased rapidly with each turn of our tires. My truck was no match for his cycle's engine - not that I was racing him - and he was soon disappearing. I did see him pass a few more vehicles in the distance and, I'd assume, he had to be traveling well in excess of 80 mph when no one was in front of him.
About six or seven minutes later, still traveling north on Georgia 85, I heard the roar of a motorcycle behind me and looked up to see the same fellow. He was wearing a blue work uniform, one with fluorescent striping on the back, and he wore a backpack, so it was pretty easy to identify him. He must have pulled into a convenience store I'd passed and then had time to catch back up. Yes, he was flying.
He got me in another double yellow and I again watched him pass a few others. Traffic grew heavier and a few cars turned off the highway as we approached Fayetteville and its many businesses and neighborhoods. Stopped by a red light, I found myself directly behind him, having caught back up to him in spite of my driving close to the to speed limit. Not wanting to wait on a pickup in front of him, he whipped to the right into a deceleration lane and passed, only to catch up to another vehicle that he wasted little time in swerving around when the road expanded to two northbound lanes. When I turned off, he was barely a block ahead of me.
All that risk, all that frenetic energy expended to gain almost nothing. I know; he had time to make a quick stop and dash back to his motorcycle, but in about twenty minutes of travel, having passed multiple times illegally on double yellows, he was about where he'd been if he'd just ridden right behind me. His blood pressure had to be off the charts, I know, for the ride had to be an exercise in futile frustration.
I know, for sometimes I, too, feel like I'm strapped to a two-wheeled rocket, racing helter-skelter on a course fraught with danger and getting nowhere fast. Busily, I hurtle along, pushing and scrambling, swerving and blasting off again, only to discover that I have precious little to show for my efforts. Whether it's in my ministry, or in my relationship with others - especially my family - or in my own spiritual life, I rely way too much on, well, on my own self and my ability to get what I want. Thus, I press and zoom and ultimately, I endanger the very things I love the most - my church, my family, my own soul.
It makes me think of James and John, the brothers who were two of Jesus's disciples. They, too, wanted to get somewhere fast, that being to positions of power and prestige with Jesus. So, they angled, asking Him to give them the places of honor in His coming kingdom. Even their mama got in on the pursuit as she, in the 20th chapter of Matthew, seeks out Jesus to request that He let one son sit at His right hand and the other at His left, kind of like being Vice President and Secretary of State. At least she wasn't demanding - she wasn't choosy about which got the highest spot.
Jesus, though, tells her that's not the way to advance in His kingdom. Service, not self-promotion, is the ticket with Him. Relationship, not shortcuts nor barreling past people with demands and selfish expectations, is the route to closeness to Him.
The answer isn't inactivity, for sure, but it is what Jesus refers to as "rest" in Matthew 11:28. "Come to me, all you who you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." To prove it's not simply sitting slug-like, He speaks in the very next verses of taking up His yoke, an item of labor and work.
Rest, then, means ceasing from the frenzy and trusting the One who is sufficient for our deepest longings and needs. It means getting in the flow with Him, being confident that He is who He says He is and that He can and will do that which He promises.
I sure hope the crazy guy on the motorcycle got where he was headed. And I hope, by God's good grace, I, another crazy guy pushing too much on my own, can better rest in, and trust in, Jesus.