Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stepping Away from Busyness and Efficiency

While many of us want to live in the moment—and be present to God’s presence—our whole approach to life militates against such presence. Without a deep change inside, living in the "now" will always be just a romantic dream for us.

Busyness and efficiency are two of the false gods of contemporary culture. Socrates warned: Beware of the barrenness of a busy life. Our society today, however, has ignored that caution. In our attempt to have it all, we keep going faster and faster. The problem is that we run past more than we catch up to. In our greediness for life and experience, we actually miss out on so much of life.

Contemporary Christians have unwittingly fallen into the worship of the same false gods. No different than unbelievers around us, we pursue busyness and efficiency. It is not that hard work is wrong. However, when the hectic pace with which we approach our work consumes our every waking hour and distracts our thoughts, we are no long focused on God. If we hope to experience God to the fullest—and to be available to God in a profound way—we must step away from our pathetic activism.

How often we approach our daily work with stress and distraction. We blame our lack of time with God on our busy schedule, and we accuse our responsibilities for hindering our spiritual maturity.

However, “it is not your work that hinders you” from spiritual growth, asserts the great preacher, Johannes Tauler, “but rather the disordered way in which you work that hinders you. You fail to keep God clearly in your love, in your longing and in your heart. Thus you are scattered and distorted within, and God is not completely intrinsic to you. Truly, what hinders you is not your work or anything other than yourself.” [1]

We assume that it all depends on us, and that we need to work harder and longer to get everything done. However, Scripture tells that the fruitfulness of our labor depends on the Lord and that he gives us peace and rest:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
  its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
  the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,
  toiling for the food you eat—
  for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Ps 127:1-2)

Let us cast our cares on the Lord all day long as we approach our work and responsibilities, and let us truly enter God’s rest!

1. Johannes Tauler Predigten: Vollständige Ausgabe, edited by Georg Hofmann (Freiburg: Herder, 1961), sermon 5, pp. 35-36. All translations from German are my own.

© 2012 Glenn E. Myers

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