Hurry Destroys Souls

I sat across from a sweet friend the other day, sharing life between mug sips she asked, “What are you learning?” In this friendship, such a question, and other equally piercing and intentional ones like it, are not uncommon. Yet, as soon as the words left her tongue, I felt myself clinch and wince. For all my to do lists, busyness, and productivity an immediate response was far from my lips. I breathed deeply, scanned the room as I surveyed my thoughts, and tried to formulate something honest that at the same time, preserved my pride and didn’t sound quite so convicting and flawed.

A few days later I sat with my small group and listened to Matt Chandler teach from Philippians 3. As our group began to discuss the text and the accompanying commentary, I couldn’t help but find myself convicted by similar questions. ”Why are we so easily satisfied?” ”What stirs your affections for Christ?” ”What robs you of those same affections?”

What made my response in the first setting elusive was the answer to the last question. What robs my affections for Christ? In one word, simply, busyness.

My guess is you’re not immune to that bolded black word either. It’s the cultural air we breathe. More often than not, it’s celebrated. Instead of asking, “What are you learning?” most of us are used to the question, “How are you?” to which we proudly reply, “Busy.” Well meaning times with others are delayed until, “things aren’t so busy,” yet I find myself using this tired phrase in winter, spring, summer, and fall. You see, even when things slow down to a more even pace, I find myself still struggling with its aftertaste. When I come up for air, I find myself gasping for breath. Gasping and gulping for rest in sometimes gluttonous ways, trying to catch up for what was elusive during those tumultuous over-scheduled seasons. At those times, I find myself continuing to struggle to rest in healthy ways. My mind and body find it foreign. Sometimes I crash and burn while other times I struggle to know what exactly to do with this new found space that makes me feel guilty for not being, you guessed it, busy.

Ironically, I found myself reading Luke 10:38-42–the story of Mary and Martha the other day. Once again I was confronted by what more often than anything else keeps me from Christ. I found myself on the page characterized not by the woman sitting at Jesus’ feet, but by the other sister who was worried and upset about many things. She had Jesus in her home, but failed to recognize and treasure the moment because there was far too much to be done.

A while back Keith preached a sermon on this same text. At that time, I used to take sermon notes and some additional time piecing them back together as found poetry. In many ways this exercise helped me to process and internalize Sunday morning’s truth in a deeper way. I’ve included my reflections from that morning below. They were good for me to read, but also caused me to recognize something important about the spiritual season I’m currently in. I don’t make time to do that anymore. My mind and heart, as of late, have been somewhat distracted each sabbath to the point where note taking hasn’t happened. As a result, taking the time to reprocess those words doesn’t either. I don’t mean this in a chastising, legalistic way that screams, “To be a better Christian you need to take sermon notes and write poetry from them.” That’s not the point for me and it’s for sure not the point for other people who quite often process information the best in other ways. For me, though, this distraction, busyness, and frenetic pace is robbing my affections in part because I’m not doing the opposite. You see, for me, writing quite often is what stirs my affections for Christ.

Thankfully, Jesus’ words to Martha and to me aren’t just filled with truth, but genuine love and grace. In fact, despite the busyness of her heart and mine, he gently extends a tender invitation.

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

Only one thing is necessary. How thankful I am for that qualifying number–just one. He doesn’t give me a laundry list or 12 step program to work through. He simply reminds me that He alone is the refuge for weary souls. Only one thing is necessary and that one thing simply is Him.

Hurry Destroys Souls
Found Poetry from January 8, 2012

An obstacle
more common
than
hardship,
suffering,
renouncing,
or doubt.

Busyness.

Cluttered minds.
Distracted hearts.
Lives sprinting.

Settling for a
mediocre version
of faith.

Worried and upset
about many things.

A picture of who we are
and who we want to be.

Choose what is better
and it will not
be taken away.

The things of most importance
can’t be left
to the mercy
of the things of least.

Yet we feed
souls created for more
with busyness.
Kept from the greatest treasure
we could ever know.
Neglecting the ultimate
for the lesser.

Life doesn’t just fall in place
without
deliberate,
intentionality.
Neither does transformation
happen apart from
grace.

Jesus isn’t yelling,
but inviting.
Few things needed,
indeed only one.

My soul finds rest
in God alone.

Be still and know
the one exalted
among the
nations.
The one who prefers
our company
to our service.

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One Response to Hurry Destroys Souls

  1. Aunt Lois says:

    You’re so right! I find myself overwhelmed with busyness trying to get things done, that I can’t figure out what to do when I have time to catch up. It leaves you unsatisfied with everything & no peace for the soul.

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