The Rat Race

by Peter Swann

It’s a rat race out there. Fast-paced, hectic, demanding. It strains us, it pulls at us, it takes from us. Life is moving all too fast.

It wasn’t like that two weeks ago, though, at least for my family. We were in Africa, back where I grew up. It was slow-paced and highly relational. It was manageable, it was enjoyable. Shauna and I said besides leaving our friends, the hardest thing about returning to the States was the pace. For all that is great about the West, the pace will run you into the ground.

It’s led me to question why we live this way, and frankly, whether we have to live this way. Why, after all, do we have more developed technology yet lived vastly faster lives? Wasn’t technology supposed to help things slow down? It’s made me wonder if we live fast lives because we have to live fast lives or because we can’t live with ourselves if life is slow.

In the end, it’s a complex conversation with complex answers. There are various reasons why we move fast. Some are acceptable, and others aren’t. Here are four not-so-great reasons we might be moving too fast:

  1. We feel a need to produce. We feel that our life’s worth is based on how much production we crank out.
  2. We feel a need to accomplish. We struggle with the feeling that our status is equal to our job title or accomplishments.
  3. We feel a need to please. We have trouble saying “no” to commitments because we don’t want to let anyone down (our friends, our kids, our spouse, even strangers).
  4. We feel no peace within ourselves. We fret over our fast lives so we don’t have time to reflect on who we are.

A defining theme is the link to identity. Our identity issues are killing us. We are being crushed by our faulty understanding of who we are.

The gospel corrects this. Powerfully. It obliterates this false sense of identity. It tells that us that:

  1. We don’t need to produce, because our life’s worth isn’t based on our work but Jesus’.
  2. We don’t need to accomplish, because our real status isn’t based on ourselves.
  3. We don’t need to please, because what matters is Jesus making us pleasing to God.
  4. We don’t need to fret, because Jesus is our identity and our peace.

This isn’t to say that God won’t work through us to produce or accomplish. We also certainly want to honor those around us. And there are great reasons that make us really busy.

But here’s the principle: let’s not work for our identity, let’s work from our identity.

It’s a rat race out there, but it doesn’t have to be in here. In our hearts, in our minds, in our community… He Himself is our peace.