Beliefnet
Leaving Salem

My wife Cindy is a jackrabbit. Do you know what that means? I’ll explain.

Cindy and I are bike riders. No, not the motorized, belching exhaust type, but the human-powered, pedaling type. We are bicycle riders. We have learned that bicycle riding is good for your health and your marriage. There are few sports we enjoy more than ripping off thirty or so miles before breakfast. We enjoy the exercise and the time together.

Cindy, as I said, is a jackrabbit. “Jackrabbit” is my term for one who jumps off the starting line of her bike ride each morning as if her butt was on fire. Cindy always sets a brisk pace in the coolness and freshness of each day.

I admit that when we begin, I can’t catch her. It takes a dozen miles or so before my legs and lungs wake up. I spend the first part of our rides together as a dot in her rearview mirror.

This jackrabbit approach to cycling only has one problem: Setting a fast pace and keeping that pace are two very different animals indeed. The jackrabbit of the morning can quickly become the tortoise of the afternoon.

So as Cindy disappears over the horizon in the opening miles of the day, I bide my time. I set a steady pace, knowing I will catch up to her down the road. There she will be, curled up in the fetal position along the side of the road, sucking wind.

Are you a jackrabbit? Are you that type “A” personality? Do you have a gung-ho kind of approach to life with only two speeds, fast and faster? Do you love to grab hold of huge, Herculean tasks and whip them into submission?

If so, hey, I tip my hat to you. You get more done before lunch than most people get done in a week. But a word of warning: Will you be around when the day is finished, or will you too be lying in the shade frothing at the mouth and sucking wind?

Remember, this jackrabbit approach to life and work has only one problem: Setting a fast pace and keeping that pace are two very different animals.

The Old Testament patriarch, Moses, led the people ofIsraelout ofEgyptand out of slavery. Bravely he marched into the land of the Pharaohs and demanded, “Let my people go!”

Even as I write these words, in my mind I can see Charlton Heston, staff in hand, staring down Yul Brynner in the Egyptian sand. Could two actors have looked any more “biblical”?

After the escape from Egypt, the deadly plagues, and the crossing of theRed Sea, Moses’ job as deliverer was complete. His role transitioned from acclaimed savior to not-so-glamorous administrator.

The people brought all their troubles and disputes to Moses for him to arbitrate. From early in the morning to late at night, day after ceaseless day, Moses was there settling the quarrels of others. He started well, but before long the jackrabbit was exhausted.

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to him with constructive criticism, as father-in-laws are prone to do with the foolish boys who marry their daughters: “This is not good! You’re going to wear yourself out,” he said. “This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself” (See Exodus 18).

Moses’ father-in-law went on to tell Moses to share the load. Get some help. Set a manageable pace. Yes, do the important work God had assigned you, but do it in a way you can finish, not just begin.

The one life you have been given to live is not a sprint. It is a marathon. If you use up all your energy today, setting a tempo impossible to maintain, the race will not carry you across the finish line. It will only carry you to an early grave.

You’ve got a long way to go. Take care of yourself. Stop and rest when you need to. Eat right. Do a little sight-seeing along the way. Let others help you. Pace yourself. Take Jethro’s counsel to heart: “You’re going to wear yourself out.”

You may not finish first, but at least you will finish. That’s better than lying stupefied in the shade.

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