“Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).
The maid told my friend, “The reason you are tired all the time is that you’re always rushing.”
Wisdom is where you find it.
My friend Don Davidson, who pastors the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia, quotes John Ortberg who said the best advice he ever received came from Dallas Willard. “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
My wife says, “It’s easier said than done.”
Indeed. That’s why so few manage it.
I’ve decided it’s my goal for the new year, to abide in the Lord. Living in Him, staying in His word, and abiding in the moment–those three things–should eliminate hurry from the life of any Christ-follower.
Here are some random thoughts on this subject that come to mind….
A generation ago, a Christian writer identified the three greatest enemies of the disciplined life of believers as hurry, crowds, and noise. Lately, I’ve noticed that more and more churches are incorporating those three elements into their worship services. (Even typing that sentence depresses me.) The congregation is crowded into a space (we must not allow separation!), the bands and singers blast their music into the stratosphere (ear plugs provided), and the human body goes through all the same physical gyrations as when in a panic: heart racing, adrenalin flowing, etc.
Into this kind of dreadful setting, urging someone to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” seems out of place, much as if we were counseling them to eliminate automobile travel or try to get along without a toothbrush. “It’s what we do!”
Slowing down one’s soul–not to say his heart and body!–has to be a healthy thing. Many people have noted that in nature, animals with a rapid response to anything (the jackrabbit comes to mind) have a much shorter lifespan than those that move more slowly and deliberately, e.g., the tortoise.
Does Scripture speak of this, of slowing down one’s rushing spirit? Surely, this hurry-crowds-noise is a recent phenomenon, something alien to the First Century world. That’s a question, incidentally.
The answer, I venture, is that these issues have ever been with us, although they are intensified in today’s world.
Psalm 4:4 says, “Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.”
Psalm 23:2 “He leadeth me beside the still waters.” Waters of rest, the footnote calls them.
Rest. Hmmm. We seem to recall the writer of Hebrews spoke of this.
–“As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest'” (3:11).
What is this “rest of God” which some find so elusive? The Hebrews scribe continues:
–“And so we see that they were not able to enter (His rest) because of unbelief” (3:19).
–“Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it” (4:1).
–“For we who have believed enter that rest….” (4:3).
So apparently, believers in Jesus Christ are (theoretically at least) enjoying the kind of spiritual rest which the Old Testament promised to the faithful.
Doubtless, this is what our Lord had in mind when He said, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
To rest in the Lord is a worthy aim for any of us. And since “to abide” means “to dwell” (abide and abode are related), this surely is what our Lord is calling for in the John 15 text.
To “rest in the Lord” and our hurrying, rushing spirit surely are strangers to one another and deadly enemies. We can have one but not both.
I’m one to rush.
Many a time when I have been trying to get out of town and on the highway to a meeting of some kind, there were so many details to see to, so many things to take with me and so many items to make sure were covered back at home, that when I finally was in the car and driving away, my spirit was still rushing. It’s a terrible feeling and cannot be healthy. (Plus, such a driver is an accident looking to happen until he can quieten his spirit, settle his nerves, and focus on the task at hand.)
To eliminate hurry from our lives–and to do so ruthlessly!–we will require a plan. (I’m speaking to myself here, if I’m to accomplish this in the new year.) Some elements of that program must include the following….
Praying. Nothing soothes the savage, rushing, troubled heart and oppressed soul like time with the Lord on our knees during which we lay all our cares upon Him.
Last year a friend reminded me of the value of time literally on my knees in prayer. I prayed in the car while traveling, on my feet while walking my daily route, and at bedtime and such. But every morning I began to pull aside and kneel to talk to the Lord (and to be quiet and listen). Every Sunday at church, I go to the altar and kneel and leave burdens there. I do recommend this.
“Casting all your cares on Him for He cares for you.”
Planning. Giving prayerful thought to our schedule will make sure we don’t get caught by surprise.
The usual reason for rushing is that we are running late. And that’s often the result of getting caught up in something (such as this blog!) and losing track of time. By praying over my schedule in the mornings and leaving each matter with the Lord, I should be able to cut back on a lot of last-minute scampering.
Progressing. Common sense says I’ll do well sometimes and poorly at others. The habits of a lifetime do not release their grip in a moment at the announcement of a New Year’s resolution.
Perfectionism will be my enemy. If I decide, say, three months into the year that my program is not working, I must not abandon the attempt to eliminate hurry from my life but find other approaches.
The old prayer that goes, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!” comes to mind. I’ll not be doing that, but will ask the Father to help me
–to abide in Him,
–to abide in His Word,
–and to abide in each moment.
That is a fair description of eliminating hurry, it would seem.