37 – “Spiritual” Speed Bumps
After a life of diligent toil, John retired at age 57. Then came Black Monday.
On October 19, 1987, along with many millions of others, John watched helplessly as his nest egg tumbled through the air and splattered on the ticker tape strewn floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
John was forced to end his retirement and re-enter the work force, which he did with good humor. It has been in some sense sad to watch him pressed back into commerce when I know he wanted to serve the Lord in a different way.
Speed Bumps and Circuit Breakers
After Black Monday Ronald Reagan asked then Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady to head a task force to prevent a replay of the computer initiated selling frenzy that devastated so many like John.
The Brady recommendation installed “speed bumps” or “circuit breakers” to slow down a stock sell off. For example, after a 350 point drop in the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, a half hour halt to trading takes place. When the Dow falls 550 points a one hour halt takes effect. These recommendations were adopted, but how effective would they be?
Now we know. On Monday October 27, 1997 ten years after Black Monday the “circuit breakers” tripped twice. All the “Johns” of the world were spared. The system worked. But why?
In an interview on Tuesday morning, October 28, 1997, Nicholas Brady explained. “We installed these circuit breakers to halt trading temporarily to enable the human mind to catch up with technology. We wanted to slow the process so human beings can understand what has happened.”
“Spiritual” Circuit Breakers and Speed Bumps
The purpose of a “circuit breaker” is to prevent overload. It is to put a stop to something before it gets out of control. “Spiritual” circuit breakers are warnings that you are about to go into overload about to lose control.
What are the spiritual circuit breakers that can help us avert crisis and warn us that things are about to get out of control?
Ask yourself these questions. (Place a check by those that hit home.)
1. Changes in family relationships.
Have you found yourself missing more of your kids important activities?
Have you felt cold toward your wife? Has she acted differently toward you?
Are your children cold toward you? Do they want to spend time with you?
Do you have an emotional attachment to any woman other than your wife? (i.e. do you get emotionally excited around a neighbor or co-worker?)
Are you spending time with your wife, listening to her, touching her, accepting her unconditionally, encouraging her with words, laughing with her, and being her best friend?
2. Changes in lifestyle.
Do you spend time in ways you would be embarrassed for your friends to know about?
Do you have any self-destructive behaviors?
Are you getting enough fresh air and exercise?
Are you eating properly?
Are you getting enough sleep? …Waking up too often?
3. Changes in finance.
Are you cutting it closer than you used to?
Have you stopped putting money aside for retirement?
Have you taken on too much debt? … Misused your credit cards?
Do you have the proper amount of insurance?
4. Changes in friendships.
When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation (more than news, sports, and weather) with a male friend?
5. Changes in worship.
Think about the last few Sundays. Has worship been an encounter with God or have you been playing at church?
6. Changes in use of time.
Have you significantly changed the way you spend your time?
Are you leaving any important priorities unattended?
Are you sharing chores around the house?
7. Changes in mood.
Do you find yourself withdrawing from relationships or activities?
Do you find yourself more angry?
Are temptations more appealing?
8. Changes in integrity.
Have you done anything you would be embarrassed for your wife, pastor, or best friend to know about?
Is who you are in public the same person you are in private?
How did you do? Did these questions trip some breakers? Are you under control, or are you headed for a crash?
If You’re Not Happy With Your Answers
If you didn’t do too well, you probably need to focus on spending more time with Jesus. Jesus is our leader. If we bring ourselves into the real presence of Jesus, He will show us what we need to do. He will help us “reset” our breakers and “see” the speed bumps.
The purpose of a “speed bump” is to slow you down before someone gets hurt. Just as “stock” speed bumps protected men like John from financial crisis, so can “spiritual” speed bumps protect you and me from crises of every sort. They can slow us down before somebody gets hurt. Consider the following…
1. Stillness. Perhaps the best speed bump of all is to find a quiet place. The Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). Most of us run near red-line most of the time. To be still means to let our motors idle for a while.
Where is the Lord to be found?
And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;
and after the fire a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12).
The Lord is found in a “still small voice.” The whisper of the Holy Spirit will not be heard above the cacophony of worldly sounds. The Holy Spirit will not raise His voice to compete with TV, radio, cell phones, horns, people talking, or customers calling. Instead, we must still ourselves to hear His voice. The Spirit’s whisper is a loud, loud voice to the man who has stilled his soul.
2. Prayer. The ethos of Scripture is prayer. The Bible says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). If we were wise we would pray about everything! We would develop a personal culture of prayer.
Prayer slows us down. Prayer reveals the will of God to us the very thing we each want. Unless we pray, somebody is going to get hurt. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
3. Bible Meditation. One of my favorite passages is Psalm 1:1-3,
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The Bible is the speed bump that leads to green leaf and luscious fruit. To slow down for the Bible is to guarantee that you will prosper. Look at the passage again. Wouldn’t you like to be like a tree planted by streams of living water? Don’t race over this bump.
Not happy about your walk with Jesus? Want to build more stillness, prayer, and Bible meditation into your life?
If so, consider these ideas . . .
1. Start an accountable relationship with one, two, or three other men. (Call or write for our free wallet sized “The Weekly One-Hour Accountability Check-Up” cards.)
2. Suspense this issue of A Look in the Mirror to pop up every 90 days or so and see if you need to slow down.
3. Take your “high risk” issues and talk them over with your wife.
4. Take a Saturday morning and write down which breakers have been tripped, what you need to do to reset them, and what speed bumps you can set out to help you go forward steadily.
How is the “still small voice” of God suggesting you respond? Go ahead and do it. Install the circuit breakers and speed bumps you need. Don’t end up like John. Don’t end up in spiritual bankruptcy.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1997. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.