Choose your rut
love reading road signs. Like the one welcoming you to Kettle Falls,
Washington, the home of “1255 friendly people and one grouch.” In
Hilt, California, a sign advises: “Brakeless trucks, use freeway.”
Along Oregon’s winding coast, another warns: “Emergency stopping only.
Whale watching is not an emergency. Keep driving.” I pulled into a
service station once. A bold sign proclaimed, “We have Mexican food. We
have gas.” But my favorite of them all is posted on an Alaska highway:
“Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next two hundred
a young father, I found myself in the rut of spending sixty hours at work
each week, speaking across the country on weekends, and wallpapering the
house at night. I had three small children and one wife, and I was in
danger of getting their names mixed up. Of becoming the grouch of Kettle
Falls. Like the wallpaper, things were about to come crashing down. Before
I knew what hit me, I was flat on my back. Burned out.
was reading all the wrong signs. Signs like, “Give your kids the stuff
you never had.” I was stuck in the rut of believing that an ultra-busy
schedule equals a productive life. Three liberating truths have freed me
from that rut and turned our home into a place our family loves to be. I
think we should plant them as road signs along life’s highway.
The fruit of the Spirit is not lemons.
the midst of my burnout, my 4-year-old pounced on me and tickled me. I
didn’t move. “Dad,” he said, “you don’t laugh so good
anymore.” That night I made a conscious decision to change. I began
renting funny, wholesome movies. I bought a few cartoon books and
explained the jokes to the kids. Within days, the difference in our home
was noticeable. God
is a God of joy. He has given us a built in escape hatch for the pressures
of life. It is our funnybone. Laughter has no MSG, no fat grams or carbs.
Laughter is low in cholesterol and the government still doesn’t tax it.
So let’s fill our homes and our workplaces with laughter whenever we
Even ants have time to attend picnics.
we bought a puppy. Mojo cost us $300, or $100 per brain cell. Sometimes
she curls up on my lap, her tiny heart beating faster than you’d
believe. But when she drifts off to sleep, it slows remarkably. They say
the jumping mouse’s heart beats 500 times a minute. During hibernation
it slows to 30 beats per minute. I’m not recommending hibernation, but
Bible tells us that Jesus often took a break. No one in history
accomplished more, yet He did so without acquiring an ulcer. Rest allows
us to recharge our batteries and reorganize our priorities. The Creator of
the universe rested. So must we.
Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.
enough road signs and we can’t miss the huge advertisements telling us
we do not have enough: “You don’t drive a blue Mercedes like this one.
You poor thing. You don’t eat bronzed chicken in a perfect kitchen with
perfect lighting and perfect children who laugh at all your jokes while
the Labrador retriever lies at your feet flea-less and grinning.”
night my wife and I left our credit cards at home and strolled through a
mall laughing at all the things we do not need. We found a cell
phone that works underwater, alarm clocks that project the time on your
ceiling in the middle of the night, and gas-powered blenders for the
backyard. We even found pants that talk. They say, “Zip me!” How times
have changed since Daniel Boone said, “All you need for happiness is a
good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.”
“Honey,” I said, “we don’t have the big screen TV or the blue
Mercedes, but we have what they can’t sell. We are rich in
relationships. Rich in memories. Rich enough to give some money away. And
if we notice that the neighbor’s grass is greener, let’s remind
ourselves that their water bill is probably higher, and they have to cut
it more often.”
weeks ago, my eldest son left for Bible college. I said goodbye with a few
tears, much thanksgiving and few regrets. I wonder if I’d be able to say
that had I not heeded these three roads signs. I still don’t live in
perfect balance. But I’m learning to laugh, learning to prioritize, and
learning to rest. If I keep this up I may even have time to wallpaper.