American culture values busyness. Honestly, it has gotten out of hand. Our culture places great value on being active, filling up every moment of the day, allowing activities to fill up our calendars. Many of us have adopted these values and find it hard to slow down. We feel guilty if we’re not busy morning, noon and night, whether it’s working, going to an event at church or in the community, or posting on social media. Most of us live at a very fast pace.
One thing that amazes me about the life of Jesus is that he never seemed busy. Jesus knew what His Father called Him to, and He was deliberate every day to fulfill His Father’s Will. Jesus had only about three years of ministry, and indeed much ministry and teaching was packed into those three years. But Jesus was never overly busy; He didn’t rush; He took time for the people God put in His path. He was people-centered, not time-centered.When he drew the little children toward Him, Jesus’ disciples wanted to pull him on to “greater” things (see Mark 10:13-16). Jesus took His time talking to woman at the well (John 4:4-26). He spent time with His Father in prayer .
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark,, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Mark 1:35-37
When I spent a summer in Africa many years ago, it took me several weeks to get used to the slower pace. I wasn’t familiar with the difference between a focus on time and a focus on people. I remember one day when my Maasai friend Rose promised to come to the house where I was staying and visit me. I don’t remember if we set an exact time, but I thought she’d come at about 2pm, and she didn’t show up until a few hours later. Much later I finally understood the difference in our thinking. Rose was thinking “I’ll get the water and then I’ll wash the clothes, and then I’ll walk down to visit Katie.” But if she ran into a friend along the way, she would stop and chat, or even go into their home for a cup of tea. We had a totally different perception of time, and of what what important. To me, at the time, it was important to “keep a commitment” and “show up on time.” To Rose, it was important to nurture relationships.
I’m not suggesting that we throw our calendars out the window and become so people-focused that we miss appointments or show up late to work. But if our days are full from morning until night, there is no room for flexibility to stop and help someone, to nurture a relationship, to help a friend, or make a new one. There is so much we miss out on when we’re rushing from one commitment to the next. I am trying to focus on what it is God wants me to do and be faithful to that. To say “yes” to the right things and “no” to what is not part of God’s plan for me. Won’t you join me?
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