Friday, November 26, 2010

Rush! Rush! Rush!

Next time someone asks, "How are you?," try replying, "Busy!" I'll bet a Starbucks latte that the response will be, "That's great!" Granted, having a job is generally a good thing; and having plenty to do is usually better than sitting idle and depressed. On the other hand, North America has no shortage of people who are seriously depressed—or physically ill—because the strain of their busyness caught up with them before they "caught up" with their work.

"What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?" asked the writer of Ecclesiastes. "All things are wearisome, more than one can say.... I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecc. 1:3, 8a, 14). The phrase "chasing after the wind" appears nine times in Ecclesiastes; seven of those times it is paired with the word "meaningless." That's an apt description of today's American dream: we always seem to be "chasing" something as elusive as the wind, and end up catching nothing we find meaningful. Worse, while in the wild the one being chased runs most frantically, in the "civilized" world the chasers are the ones afraid to slow down. And in the end, unceasing high speed can only lead to breakdown.

Martha in Luke 10:38-42 was dangerously close to breakdown when, "distracted by all the preparations that had to be made" (v. 40a), she unleashed a burst of frustration at Jesus for not assigning her sister assistant kitchen duty. Many of us, likewise, blame God for "giving us more work than we can handle" when in fact we have taken on burdens He never intended us to bear. As He said to Martha then, He says to us now, "You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one (Luke 10:41b-42a). Stop striving to fill every need you see; stop trying to do more than you can; put aside the idea that your value is in achievement. Sit down at My feet and listen to Me, and I will give you strength and guidance for the work I have for you."

It runs counter to all instinct and habit. But it's the only way to receive the better things God has ready for us.

Rush! Rush! Rush!
Through life we hurry along:
The busy soul is the lucky one,
And the high achievers strong.
Rush! Rush! Rush!
Each pause is an enemy:
We must run faster to catch the day
When from stress we will be free.

Wait! Wait! Wait!
What, really, do we achieve
Through constant drive to accomplish more?
What blessings do we receive?
Wait! Wait! Wait!
Give thought to your deeper needs:
Might you gain the world and lose your soul
Through the press of earthly deeds?

Stop! Stop! Stop!
Give ear to the Lord's soft voice:
"Your true significance is in Me;
You can in My peace rejoice."
Stop! Stop! Stop!
Sit down at the Savior's feet,
For our strain and stress bears bitter fruit,
But God's Holy Fruit is sweet.

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