Nearly everyone I know seems busy. Do people feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something productive? It seems people schedule in time with friends the way politicians go to church, to ensure they look good on the outside. I was talking with two B4Ters recently, one was struggling with his prayer life, and another stated “God seems far away.” When I asked both how much time do you spend alone with God each day”, they both answered “I don’t have time, I’m too busy.” Too busy for God? Why are we overseas if not because of Jesus?
We’ve been back in the States barely a week now. We’ve never seen so many busy people. Whenever we ask people, “How are you?” the default response seems to be “Busy!” or “Crazy busy.” I’m never quite sure if that is meant as a boast or a complaint.
I notice it isn’t people who are pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell us how busy they are; rather it’s almost always people whose lives seem to have no free time due to purely self-imposed obligations. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety. I wonder if they’re addicted to busyness because they dread what they might have to face in its absence.
Busyness can be self-assuring, a protection against emptiness. But our emptiness is not to be filled with tasks, it’s to be filled with Jesus. The Son tell us, learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Jesus is to fill our inner emptiness, we are not fill it by our own efforts. Jesus filling requires basing our identity in Him, and Him alone. Yes, it feels good to be busy. Obviously if we are busy, our life cannot possibly be unimportant, trivial, or meaningless. But understand, the present popularity of busyness is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. I like to question those we mentor, “Are your frantic days really just a hedge against emptiness?” “Are we drawing our self-worth – finding our identity in Jesus, or in our productivity?”
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize as well as anyone that B4Ters are busy; kids, co-workers, spouse, local friends, friends back home, and if these relationships don’t keep us busy enough, there’s work that actually has to get done too. Yet as someone who travels constantly, I recognize that life can feel busy; but to be honest it’s not. Too busy is when we don’t have time to send a birthday card to a loved one, or linger on a call with a friend, or spend time with our first love – Jesus, or our second love – our spouse. Busyness is not the result of too much to do, it is the product of an un-managed life. Too busy? Likely your priorities are out of whack, and likely no one is helping you to stay on track.
Look at our Lord, in the midst of busyness we find Jesus regularly taking time to get away to be with the Father. In Mark 1:33f we find, the whole town is gathered at the door.Jesus is healing people, literally pouring Himself out to others the whole day; yet the next morning He’s up getting one on one time with His Daddy.