Pace Yourself!



I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.   Ecclesiastes 9:11

OK, Ok, Ok! I get it! It’s only Week One; it’s only the first game, and it’s only 1/16 of the pie, for crying out loud, so it’s not time to panic. So for all you Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots fans, don’t get flustered or freak out; don’t get unnerved and unsettled, and certainly don’t get overly disturbed or perturbed. It’s only one game. Whatever’s broken can be fixed; whatever’s busted can’t be trusted, and whatever’s wrong with your team can be made right; right?

So my Eagles were down 17-0 in the first half and it looked as if the season was over before it even really began; yet lo and behold, my Birds scored 34-unanswered points and we won going away: 34-17. Whew! What a comeback. We dodged a bullet there. But the caution is that we didn’t win the Super Bowl; we just won a regular season game and it’s only one win.

On the other hand, the Cowboys got the snot beat out of ‘em; the Redskins looked as bad as we thought they would; the New Orleans Saints lost a thriller to Atlanta in OT; and the mighty New England Patriots lost, or got beat, by the Miami Dolphins! Really?

So the moral of the story is found in the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Remember that one? The rabid rabbit or hare didn’t even want to run the race, because he laughed at the proposition that the slow tortoise could beat him. But beat him he did. So we learn from Aesop that the race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. And the same is true in life.

So pace yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And championships aren’t won in a game. So while I’m glad my Eagles didn’t lose, one loss, and especially an opening day loss, does not a season make. And as we all know, while a good start is a good thing, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Pace yourself means to slow down, and to take things in steps. So instead of rushing into things, you “pace yourself,” slowing down, and taking things into consideration, acting wisely. Sage advice for us all. Both the verse from Ecclesiasties 9:11 and Aesop’s famed fable of the tortoise and the hare have important implications for our lives, but each has a very different meaning.  Check this out:

Over time, the saying “The Race is not given to the swift, but to those who endure to the end” has been erroneously attributed to the Bible. In reality, the first part of the quote is in the Bible, but the saying in its entirety comes from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. “The race is not to the swift does appear in Ecclesiastes 9, but the scripture and the saying have very different meanings, although they both provide value to our lives and our marriages

Aesop’s Tortoise and the Hare

“The Race is NOT given to the Swift, but to those who Endure to the End”

The Tortoise and the Hare version expresses what most people are expressing when they quote this saying: It isn’t about starting off at a fast pace, but sticking with your goal until the end that matters. Think about this in how it relates to marriage. Sometimes we feel like the “chemistry” –being hot and heavy and all over each other– is what’s most important. While chemistry and romance are always great, the real test of a marriage is being able to hold on and stick together through it all; holding on with the same tenacity through the hot and heavy as we do through the mundane.

 The Bible

The Ecclesiastes version, however, expresses something quite different. To me, it is saying that neither speed, nor strength, nor wisdom or any other attribute exempt you from time or chance. Life, with all of its ups and downs, happens to all of us. In relation to our marriage this means that no matter how strong your marriage, or passionate, or how often you make wise decisions, your marriage will enjoy happy times and face trials and tribulations. That no matter what, we aren’t promised to be spared trouble. Yet if you want to be able to stay together through all of it, just take a lesson from our friend the tortoise.

So pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. When you want to overreact, make a big deal, make a huge fuss and get all wound up over an opening day game or a “one day in your life” event, just remember: it’s only one game, and it’s only one fraction of the whole. If you believe, things will get better.  In this early season, we have 15 more games and three and ½ more months of NFL football to go.

And in life we must learn to do the same. When things look bad or don’t work out or fall all apart, remember that it’s only one day in your life. There’s more to come. And as believers we bet the farm and mortgage our futures on the promises of God. We believe that our best is yet to come, and that God’s tomorrow is better than today. So remember – pace yourself.

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