When my aunt came to visit us, she would collapse on the couch next to me every night. If I asked her why she was so tired, she would always say she was exhausted just from watching us. Up and down the whole day. One appointment after the other. Driving the kids around, Skype calls and hurt people that needed to be helped.
It was my ‘normal’ and the way it should be. But when I had some quiet time and looked at myself from my aunt’s perspective, I saw a different picture. We were rushing around like mad rabbits, thinking it was normal. I suspect this is not how God intended it to be. Even Paul thought we should slow down a little: 11… Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job.
The first instruction is: Slow down! Calm down! You are rushing around all the time. You rush through life, actually missing everything going on around you. And in the fast lane of life there are more people living too fast and also missing everything with you.
I was asked to write an article for a book entitled Too busy being busy. I wrote the following:
I’m rushing to my next appointment. My cell phone rings. I’m already late and answers while I’m driving. Softly, but firmly, I’m informed that the due date for submitting my text was more than a week ago. I couldn’t hear clearly and asked politely: “Which book is this again?” The woman repeated: “I’m too busy.” I wanted to say something, but realised that I have already painted myself into a corner.
I looked at my life these past few years, and, yes, I’m too busy. And worst of all is that I have good reasons for it all. I’m not just lying around. I’m not wasting time. I’m working. But the net effect is that I no longer have time for myself. I no longer have time for my family. I haven’t seen my friends in a while. And God?
I hang my head in shame. I’m too busy.
While thinking about how to escape this vicious cycle, I’m reminded of a story about Martin Luther’s secretary who came to him to discuss the next day’s busy programme. To fit everything in, the secretary suggested that Luther shorten his personal devotional somewhat. Martin Luther’s response was: “I have so much to do that I will spend three hours in prayer so that I can deal effectively with everything.”
Being busy is not from God. No, God’s intention is peace and calm. Live calmly. Smell the flowers. Look at the mountains and ocean. We must slow down. Together with all the others I ask: How? Life puts pressure from all sides and no lights shining in that dark tunnel.
I wish I had the answers, but I struggle too. Maybe it’s a start to simply get to God first, because I suspect we might find the answers there where we can be quiet and peaceful. God wants to show us how to slow down.
Are you rushing?
How can you calm down?
Where will you get the time?
Father, I know I’m rushing around too much, clutching at the wind, struggling to wait patiently on You. Please help me to live a more peaceful life and to see You in the people and nature around me. Amen.