When Efficiency is Not the Best Policy

EFFICIENT: achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense; working in a well-organized and competent way; preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.

The word efficient makes me smile!  I love thinking and trying to live with efficiency in mind.  It just makes sense to me.

But this past summer, I was reminded that efficiency is not always best, from the most unlikely of teachers…my phone’s map program. Google Maps was a lifesaver as we moved to South Dakota. We took some major detours and headed much farther south than we needed to in order to see some pretty spectacular sights: Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Arches National Park….and Google Maps gave us some much needed directions and helped keep us on the right roads at the right time. 

What didn’t take long to learn, though,  was that, while Google Maps was great for giving us the most efficient routes, it wasn’t able to give us the most beautiful routes. It showed us what would save the most time and what would save us the most miles…but it was unable to tell us what routes would give us the greatest visual scenery and dynamic panoramas. Efficiency did not always equal beauty or enjoyment. The more we did our research, the more we found that adding sometimes as little as 15 minutes onto a stretch of travel was the difference between a boring highway view or seeing waterfalls, unique stone sculptures and some pretty amazing wildlife. 

We may have lost some time and some additional gas money…but we gained a greater appreciation of all our Creator has made and His incredible design and architecture. His majesty is on display everywhere….and my lips were constantly squealing with delight over each new horizon and through each new terrain. We would have certainly missed out on some of that had our only goal been efficiency; if we had simply let Google Maps be our guide and had not researched and read the accounts of those who have gone before us. 

It reminded me of a story that my aunt shared with me a few years ago…one that has often come to my mind since.  She and a friend were bicycling their way through Europe after college. At one point, her friend said to her: You are so focused on getting from one place to the next that you are missing the beauty all around. You are so focused on the destination…that you are not enjoying the journey. 

I was so glad she shared that with me because that is how I can often be: so focused on the goal (whatever that goal is) that I don’t even look up or around during the journey of getting there. I can be so focused on being efficient that I miss the “beautiful” in the process. 

Discipline is necessary, planning yields sweet fruit, and efficiency can save both time and money, but I pray we don’t miss out on the beauty of each day. Don’t miss out on the goodness of God sprinkled in every moment (James 1:17). Don’t be blind to the mercies and lovingkindness that are pursuing us  (Psalm 23:6)as we take each step of our journey Heavenward. Our days are filled with opportunities to praise the Lord…are we seeing them? 

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance…..You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:5-6, 11

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