I have a confession to make. I am busy. At first blush, that may not sound so bad, but over time, I’ve discovered the insidiousness of this sin.
On the surface, busyness appears as a virtue. People say, “Look at the progress we’ve made and the people reached. All our charts are up and to the right. This is fantastic!” And it is. It’s also a great way to get noticed and affirmed. I just didn’t know how easy it would be to lose my soul.
I’m not here talking about busyness interspersed with rest and play. I’m referring to head down, nose to the grindstone, morning, noon and night busyness. The kind that goes on for weeks and months, maybe years. It’s relentless busyness that hardens your heart, shrivels your relationships and makes it almost impossible to hear the voice of God. I know. I’ve been there.
Ironically, this is not the life Jesus modeled. Of course, Jesus had many things to do. He had people to heal, disciples to mentor, and crowds to teach. But he was never in a hurry. When word reached Jesus that his friend Lazarus was ill, he didn’t rush off to his side. Instead, Jesus stayed two days longer in the place where he was (John 11:5-6). Somehow, Jesus was just fine with moving slowly. Why aren’t we?
Author Eugene Peterson offers a couple of reasons:
“I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy?…If I go into a doctor’s office and find there’s no one waiting, and I see through a half-open door the doctor reading a book, I wonder if he’s any good. . .
“Such experiences affect me. I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.
“I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. It was a favorite theme of C. S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us.”
If you are like me, this hits a little too close to home. I used to think busyness was thrust on me by my job or stage of life. I know better now. Regardless of where I live, the kind of work I do, or my season of life, I find ways to pack my schedule. It’s no one else’s fault. It’s something in me.
That’s why this Lent, I’m engaging in a new discipline. In addition to time alone with God in the morning and journaling through my day in the evening, I’ve added a time in the mid-day to stop my work, silence my soul, and sit in God’s Presence. I often read and pray through a devotion from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office by Peter Scazzero. (The quote from Eugene Peterson came from there.) It may only be 5 or 10 minutes, but when I practice it, I am much more aware of the Holy Spirit, my pace, and when to let go. I feel like I’m working with God instead of for God. That changes everything.
Feeling busy? What one step could you take today to slow down and listen more fully to God’s voice?