Being busy and accomplishing much have always been some of my idols. To be sure, I have many more, but those are two idols I wrestle with on a continual basis. I used to think that being busy made me “special” some how, better than the other people around me. As I grew older I matured and realized that nearly everyone I met was busy in their own way and I was no different from the rest. Since moving to Pennsylvania, I have come to see that indeed, being busy is very much part of the culture out here. So in that respect, I fit in well.
As I have grown in my faith I have begun to see how being busy can be a hindrance to our walk with God. Our time for devotion and prayer, our time to see the Lord and enjoy the light of his countenance, can become marginalized as we seek to accomplish everything on our “To-Do” list first. Into the midst of these revelations two passages from Scripture have stood out lately, urging me to slow down and appreciate a simpler life.
In his letter to the Jews in Diaspora, James writes, “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business” (James 1.1, NIV). Some flowers were recently planted along the backside of the Manse. I tried my very best to water them but for whatever reason, they succumbed to the heat, withered and died. Now their lifeless stems and crinkled leaves lay folded over the earth, a visual witness to the truth of these words. If we put our very lives into what we can accomplish in this world, if we over elevate the accomplishments of our job or tasks around the house—or even in the church—over God, we should not be surprised when we find ourselves suddenly unable to stand on our own and withering away.
Against a busy life and the rigors of a dog-eat-dog world Paul told the believers in Corinth that, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you” (2nd Corinthians 1.12, ESV). An interesting boast: behaving with simplicity. Today we boast in that which makes our lives even more complicated: our degrees, our accomplishments, even our latest technological gadget, things that prevent us from slowing down and appreciating God’s creation. Yet Paul boasted in simplicity.
We are currently living in the pleasant transition of Spring to Summer. The earth seems to have come alive over night: I’ve been overwhelmed this week by the abundance of green and hints of purple, white, yellow and red, everywhere I go. How can we be aware of the provision God has for us if we never slow down to consider the lilies? Take some time and intentionally slow down over the coming weeks. Eliminate some unnecessary things from your agenda. Have a genuine conversation with someone face to face without glancing at your cell phone. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation that you might not wither in the busyness of this world but rather be governed by the grace of God.