A few weeks ago, a friend posted the following on Facebook. It was immediately convicting and heart-breaking. Here's the quote:
"When we are busier than God requires us to be, we do violence to ourselves...Thomas Merton understood this and wrote: 'There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence...activism (as in being too active) and overwork. The rush and pressure of a modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands... The frenzy...kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.' And when we do this violence to ourselves, we are unable to love others in and through the love of Christ." -Emotionally Healthy Spirituality- Scazzero, Week 6, Day 2.
In fact, I would submit, when we do this "violence" (did you catch that strong word?) to ourselves, we immediately choose to step out of joy. When we step out of joy - what is left to attract non-believers to Jesus? Why would they want to be us?
I look around me. We are a busy people. We are, then, a violent people. A people that chooses personal abuse over wisdom, over love, over joy, over peace and contentment. I am included in that collective "we"... And, all of a sudden, I feel like running someplace private, and screaming, "STOP!" When we choose this kind of lifestyle, we choose murder: of time, family, relationships with friends, the sweet place we call 'home,' and the ability to truly abide in Jesus. It makes sense that this might be one of the enemy's greatest attacks on God's people - "Dear Wormwood, Get them too busy doing good things..."
Why do we do this to ourselves? I recognize there are seasons of busy...unstoppable and unpreventable. I recognize that sometimes bosses, and the simple nature of our work, come into play and we are out of control of the situation. This isn't what I'm referring to right now. I'm talking about those of us who laden our schedules, and fill the calendar, and say "yes!" to a kazillion things that leave no room for margin. No room for error. No room for unforeseen circumstances, or unplanned waiting... No room for Sabbath... When our world is interrupted, we spiral out of control, and "berserk" is a fitting word.
I've visited "busy-ness" before. I'll revisit with the same Scripture passage. It's a story about Moses post-Red Sea. It's found in Exodus 18. Moses is one busy man. EVERYONE with a problem comes to him. He has the "in" with the Lord God. He's the one who's "in-the-know." So, no problem is too large, but no problem is too small, either. Day and Night, Night and Day, Moses sits and listens to problem after problem after problem after problem... That became the PROBLEM.
Finally, his father-in-love comes to him with good advice. He sees that Moses is becoming over-burdened, over-worked, and under joy-ed. The words Jethro speaks are, "This thing is too grievous for you..." In other words, you're so busy, all I see is a man in grief. There is no joy in you. Jethro gives Moses a plan. It has to do with prioritizing the need and sharing the load. When we prioritize and share, we create this thing called "margin," like the white space along the side of the paper and at the top and at the end. White space creates order. White space gives us boundaries. Boundaries, in this sense, are GOOD. In Moses' life, the white space created room for his wife and two sons. It gave Moses a chance to rest and renew. It allowed him to go to the tent of meeting, and speak to God as a man speaks to a friend face-to-face. There, in the presence of the Lord, Moses could find JOY.
The same is true for me. For you. Oh, may we stop doing violence to ourselves. Oh, that we create some white space, and there write the words of being in God's presence. The Words that bring joy back to our lives.
ANOTHER GREAT QUOTE TO FINISH:
ANOTHER GREAT QUOTE TO FINISH:
“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”
P.S. A great read on this idea of prioritizing is Lysa TerKeurt's new book, The Best Yes!