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Addicted to Hurry

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

If the devil cannot make you sin, he will make you busy. Corrie Ten Boom gave this advice, the famous survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. In her experience, busyness was the great crippler of souls. Not only does busyness paralyze our health, it severs our relationship with God and one another. When Christ looked at his people in the valley, he saw that they were lacking bread. When Christ looks at his people in the modern world, he sees that we are lacking stillness. The solution is the same. If we really trust God, we will discover that each given day has all the time needed. Our hurry and our stress are delusion.

“Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples” (Jn. 6:3).

A large crowd was following them. They had seen the miracles. They were looking for hope. It does not matter where they were going. Christ was drawing the crowds out from their homes. He was taking them on a pilgrimage. It is the same story for each of aus Christians. An encounter with God leads us on a journey. We rarely know the destination of the journey, but we follow. It is the process of theosis —a spiritual stretch, a gradual transformation — as God makes us a little bit more like him. At many points along the road, we run into a crisis.

“When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” (v. 5).

He wanted to test Philip. Philip moaned, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” ‘It’s impossible!’ We have these moments. The ground seems to gape beneath our feet. We look down at all our troubles, our financial instability, our exhaustion, it all seems too overwhelming. Like St. Peter walking on the waters, we look down at the chaos and realize we are sinking.

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people” (v. 9).

In other words, it is hopeless! Monday morning is the worse. Like a tidal wave, all the urgency of the week screams on Monday. The unanswered emails (they never go away), the merciless To-Do-List, the bills, the responsibilities…There is not enough time! With each time saving device, our life has gotten more exhausting. Cars, washing machines, emails, and cell phones — the studies all show the same trends. These inventions have not freed up our time. They have made our lives busier. By the year 2000, Americans had an intention span of twelve seconds. Today, our attention span has dropped to eight seconds. By the way, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. We are stretched, battered, frenzied, and burned out.

How is this affecting spirituality in America. Michael Zigarelli oversaw surveys of over 20,000 Christians. They were looking for obstacles to church growth. Busyness came up as the big, red flag:

“(1) Christians are assimilating to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to (2) God becoming more marginalized in Christians’ lives, which leads to (3) a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to (4) Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to (5) more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again” (J. M. Comer).

Christ taught us to not worry about tomorrow and to be like the lilies of the field (Mt. 6:28). We are so sucked up in modern frenzy that we hardly have time to think about these messages. When we do, they sound like fairytales. Our Lord also told us that the yoke is easy and the burden light, and that a Christian life is a life of rest (Mt. 11:28-30). What am I missing out on?

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people” (v. 9).

Philip cried out what we all cry out, when we are swamped by life’s stress. There is not enough time.

Jesus graciously responds: “Make the people sit down.”

Then he takes the loaves, gives thanks, and starts distributing. The whole crowd found bread in their hands, so much so that they had more than they could eat. When the disciples went to gather leftovers, they filled twelve baskets to the brim. What was the beginning of this miracle? They all sat down. They stopped. They were still. They breathed. Then they gave thanks to God, and God gave them their fill.

I am the worst at this. I have spent my entire adult life addicted to busyness. What is the result? I find myself chocked up with stress. I feel strung out. The stress never helps the work to get done. It just makes the process miserable. Despite the time frustrated, when I look back, the work has been finished. That is, all the work that really needed to be finished resolved itself. What was the stress? What was the hurry? It was a delusion, and a most destructive and harmful delusion.

Our stress and hurry not only harms ourselves. It harms our relationship with God and one another. Why do we rush through our prayers? Our time in prayer is meant to be a rest in God. When we dare to let go, to sit down with Christ, all of a sudden the heart beat slows down, our To-Do-List stops menacing, and the whole day feels brighter.

Our stress keeps us from loving others. Have you ever noticed how people can feel like obstacles? Texans do not struggle with this as much as others. I am from the East Coast. When I go to the grocery store I have an objective. Every person is an obstacle, an obstacle to the marathon. The machine is on full throttle. Rush. Hurry. Attain. Conquer. What is it for? What if all those people idling in the line were not really obstacles?What if they were people, desperately needing a little time, a little human love. Do we treat our family this way, our children, our peers? I do. We all do. In our rush, we fail to see God in the person directly before us. Our addiction to hurry withers our ability to love God and one another.

“Make the people sit down” (v. 10).

I wish I had the solution. I am as much an addict as anyone, if not more. I used to pride myself for my busyness. Now I have discovered it to be a vice, and a dangerous vice, and I am just now starting to look for solutions. Sure enough, the Holy Scriptures have a lot to say about stillness. There is a great deal of advice. Among so much, the Scriptures offer one particular solution to our problem — a solution deeply needed in our 21st century pace. It is an old-fashioned doctrine. Some of us may have never heard of it. It is called Sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter.” (Ex. 20:8-11).

My wife and I were visiting friends, a couple Sundays ago, who lived the Sabbath. After Church, they did not do any work. They even avoided most entertainments and all television. They simply made it a family day: a day started at church, for worship, teaching, and Christian fellowship, and finished with quiet and relaxation. What a thought. There will always be dishes. There will always be chores. There is always work that we could do on Sunday. But does it matter? It is all a distraction. Could it be that God wants us to take the Sabbath to simply “be” — a time when we do not need to produce, attain, or master? Could it be that God has given us Sabbaths scattered throughout every day, pockets of time for us to sit down with Jesus, and breath?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mt. 11:28-30).

May our Lord and Saviour heal us, so that we can take each given day, with exactly the time given in it, as a gift to cherish and use to glorify God.


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