Need a little R&R?
Most of us do. Look around the office, the school parking lot, the health club, even the church pews: We are a people in need of rest, and we wear that need on our faces most days.
It’s a look I sometimes see in my own mirror.
Last week, I sat in a fast-food drive-through line, silently stewing because it was taking too long – too many seconds – for an order of fries and a hamburger.
I wondered: When did I join this harried herd of folks with too many commitments and too little time?
I am thankful that our God has ordered life according to seasons. Solomon observed this: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven …” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – NKJV)
In times of stress and busyness, we can be thankful to God that life is not always that way.
But here’s the rub: We Americans sometimes choose busyness, rather than just dealing with it when it comes. We readily fill our lives so full of activity that busyness becomes a frenzied lifestyle, rather than a season that comes and goes.
We mistake activity for productivity.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus describes faith in him, and living by that faith in him, in terms of rest: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 – NKJV)
The soul rest that Christ speaks of is the ultimate relief from the burden of our sins. When we trust that he alone is our savior, the burden of sin is lifted – completely erased – and we find forgiveness and rest in the loving arms of our Creator.
We can also look to Jesus for the example of a life focused on things that matter most. This, too, is rest. Think about this: The one person in all of human history who had the most to accomplish, Christ himself, did not live a hectic, chaotic life.
Christian friend, are you struggling with a lifestyle of busyness? Don’t despair. Christ points us to many off-ramps; we’ve just got to stop speeding past them.
In Luke’s Gospel, we’re given an account of Jesus having a meal at the home of two sisters. One sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. The other sister, Martha, worked herself frantic trying to get the meal ready for a crowd of people.
Given our own lifestyles, many of us empathize with Martha when she complains: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” (Luke 11:40 – NKJV)
But consider Jesus’ reply: “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42-43 – NLT)
I really believe we find a few cures for a lifestyle of busyness in Mary’s example:
First, we can choose to say no. Most of the decisions we make that lead to busyness don’t involve a choice between right and wrong. They’re usually choices between good things. Helping Martha would have been a good thing to do, but better still was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Let’s exercise the freedom to say “no” to good things; save “yes” for the best things.
Secondly, let’s recognize life has seasons. Busyness is inevitable every now and again. But when there’s a lull in our time commitments, let’s avoid filling them up with activities just because we can.
Some people liken life to a race; if they’re right, let’s at least enjoy the yellow flags, knowing the pace soon will resume full speed.
Finally, let’s remember that companionship with Jesus is the refreshment we most need. Mary chose to open her heart and mind to the Lord, not letting anxiety or worry drown out his voice.
No matter how pressed for time we are, it’s dangerous to neglect prayer, meditation and reading the Scriptures. On any given day – even a busy day – such communion with God allows us to hear him.
Will we slow down long enough to listen?