A sneak peek just for you, my subscribers, from one of the chapters of my new book, Beyond the Front Door, which will be available on February 10. Enjoy!
Our culture has instilled in us a pride in our busyness.
We brag about how little free time we have, how many vacation days we have built up from disuse, how many activities in which we have involved our children. We feel, in fact, a sense of shame if we don’t have work or play scheduled on the weekends.
We run and we hurry and in the middle of our running and hurrying we wonder how in the world — how in this fretful, busy world — we could possibly still feel empty. So we ramp up the running and the hurrying in an attempt to drown out the loneliness.
Why is it so hard to jump off this carousel?
We want to cram more and more into our schedules. Regardless of how full our lives are, however, we are increasingly empty inside.
“Busyness acts to repress our inner fears and personal anxieties, as we scramble to achieve an enviable image to display to others. We become ‘outward’ people obsessed with how we appear, rather than ‘inward’ people, reflecting on the meaning of our lives.”
We do not, however, need to prune our lives of all busyness.
The truth, it turns out, is more nuanced than that.
The truth is that busyness is not always a negative occurrence as long as you have regular rhythms of stillness in place in your life as well. The problem comes when you have a life that is full of busyness with a complete dearth of any times of stillness.
Jesus’ own life shows this rhythm of ministry busyness and alone-with-God stillness. A rhythm in which both busyness and stillness involve an intimate connection with God.
When we read the gospels, we discover his almost constant action throughout — coming, going, crowding, teaching, healing — and Jesus is regularly withdrawing from all of this activity, regularly going to a place of solitude to pray.
When our lives are full of work and activity with no times of respite, we become exhausted and anxious. When we have an overabundance of time, we become bored and struggle to find purpose in life.
God taught us about rhythms at the very beginning of the nation of Israel.
In the same passage later quoted by Jesus as the Greatest Commandment, Moses is giving instruction about when they arrive in the Promised Land.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Moses tells the people they should keep God in their hearts and minds, they should talk about God, talk to God, listen to God, both when they are still and when they are busy.
… when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way …
This is why these disciplines of silence and solitude and lectio divina are so necessary to our lives.
Having rhythms of being alone with God and his Word are the way we are healed by the Holy Spirit from this illness of being busy.
Daily rhythms, as well as longer monthly and annual rhythms, of being still are the way we put ourselves in a place where God can fill us up with himself.
Having rhythms of taking time out of our busyness to gaze at the Lord, taking the time to sit at his feet and learn how to abide in him, making our home in him, this is the cure for our illness.