“Life in the fast lane…Surely make you lose your mind…
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time.”
The Eagles, Life in the Fast Lane, Hotel California 1976
In 1976, the Eagles song “Life in the Fast Lane” became the third single smash hit off the Hotel California album, which has since sold nearly 22 million copies. “Life in the Fast Lane” captured the hunger and thirst people had for more material possessions, and the negative impact that pursuit was having on our peace of mind.
While this song captured the essence of culture in America at the time, it’s important to note this song was released just prior to the coming information age. With the birth of personal computing, home computing and now personal mobile devices, life today makes the 1976 “Fast Lane” seem like a day at the beach. Since the song’s release, our fast lane has become an information superhighway and its impact on our peace of mind would run over those traveling in the Eagles’ “Fast Lane” of 1976. Today, stress has become a way of life.
The human mind is designed to solve puzzles. Marketing experts know this and use it in their promotional efforts. They know if they ask a question, it opens a loop in your brain. Once the loop is opened, immediately your subconscious mind starts working to close that loop with an answer. When you expose your brain to a constant barrage of information, your mind never gets time to rest. Even in your sleep, your subconscious mind is trying to close loops and solve the puzzles of your life. When you find yourself traveling at the speed of thought, as Bill Gates said, there is never any peace in your life. Life becomes just as the Eagles suggested, “Everything all the time…surely make you lose your mind.”
According to HelpGuide.org, “The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, a mountain of bills, or an endless stream of information, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be ‘on’ most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.”
Living in the fast lane, or stress lane, can lead to serious health problems. Long-term stress disrupts nearly every bodily function, such as blood pressure, the immune system and even the body’s reproductive process, leading to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, infertility and premature aging. HelpGuide.org went on to say, “Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.”
We can’t go back to 1976, and based on the Eagles insight, we wouldn’t want to. So what’s the answer to dealing with today’s superhighway fast lane life? The answer is so simple you might be tempted to dismiss it at first:
Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 NKJV
Psalm 46:10, an often-quoted verse from the Bible, tells us to “Be still.” As I read that phrase – “Be still” – it occurred to me that most of us do not live a “still” life. In fact, most of us live such busy lives we don’t really understand the concept of “still.”
According to Webster’s Dictionary, “still” is defined as “not moving: lacking motion or activity.” If the concept of not moving seems foreign to you, then you are likely one of those people with a smart phone attached to your body at all times. You are checking for updates during meals, while driving (please don’t), at movie theaters and while watching TV. Checking your phone is the last thing you do at night and the first thing you do in the morning. Should you wake up in the middle of the night, of course you check for updates before going back to sleep. Living this way, tethered to a constant stream of information, causes tension to form in our thoughts and subconscious mind. We are tied to a long wire of thoughts, ideas, needs and issues, all of which our mind works to solve, causing us to live a life far from “still.”
What does it mean to be “still?” The word “still” found in Psalm 46 is the Hebrew word raphah (pronounced raw-faw), which means to slacken. We live such tension-filled lives. The endless string of information is tying us to the fast lane, and God is asking us to loosen the tension and allow some slack in our lives.
Imagine for a moment what it would feel like to have a few moments a day without tension and stress in your life. It feels like driving off a busy highway to a secluded area in the mountains, turning off the vehicle and stepping outside. You are likely to hear nothing, except a few birds overhead and a cool breeze whispering in your ears. What you are hearing is peace…a peace that only comes when you get still.
We are blessed to have so many great translations of the Bible. They provide unique perspectives into the translated meanings of words and phrases. Here are some examples of how other translations interpret “still” in Psalm 46:10:
- The Message Bible says, “Step out of the traffic.” Talk about catching the essence of stepping out of the fast lane! Get out of the traffic long enough to once again hear what silence sounds like.
- Today’s English Version says, “Stop fighting.” Most of us fight our way through life, living from one battle to the next. Stop fighting and be still.
- The New Living Translation says, “Be silent.”
No matter what version is your favorite, they all point to a truth in Psalm 65:1 (MSG), which says, “Silence is praise to you…God, and also obedience.” Silence is not only something you need in order to achieve peace of mind, it is something God wants you to do. Silence – being still – is obedience to God.
When is the last time you got quiet before God? Try it. You will be amazed at the outcome. It really works. Don’t talk. Don’t think. And whatever you do, don’t use your phone. Simply worship God with your silence. Done on a consistent basis, silence before God allows you to pull off the superhighway, drive through the side streets, and out into the country, until it’s just you and God. The tension will leave. Striving will leave as well. In that peaceful state of mind, you can now listen to God, see the future more clearly and refresh your mind, soul and spirit. When you do enter back onto the superhighway, you won’t be the one suffering from road rage.