Always Busy, Never Rushed
Of the many characteristics of Jesus I admire, the one that I find the most astonishing is that he never seemed rushed or in a hurry. Here he is, the God-man who took on flesh to “seek and save the lost”, and he doesn’t seem pressed for time.
That is amazing to me! You see, I -- and maybe you can relate to this -- seem to have trouble not feeling rushed. I tend to believe that I have important work to do and tasks to accomplish and rarely enough time to get everything done. I’ve spent so many days fretting over an unfinished to-do list racing the setting sun to check off tasks. There constantly seems like there is more to do than I can get done. And because I think my to-dos are so important, I tend to rush things or even cut corners.
Cut corners? Oh, not in the way you may think. I don’t skimp or intentionally cheat in the workplace, but I cut corners relationally. I cut corners by not having time for a conversation or to slow down with a stranger because I have to get to the next meeting or finish a project. Being a slave to productivity can mean you aren’t free to love others (or be loved!).
My obsession with productivity has often led me to max out my schedule to the point of having little margin for the things and people around me. How can I actually love people if I have no time for people? I’ve often fooled myself into believing that I can handle all of this, that I can get everything done and still have time for people -- as long as nothing disrupts my plans.
As long as the subway runs on time.
As long as the Internet connection is good.
As long as no one gets sick.
As long as I don’t oversleep.
As long as my plan is perfectly coordinated and executed, I will be able to fit everything in.
The problem may not be that we are too busy; perhaps it’s that we overestimate our capacity and leave ourselves with no margin to actually be human. We pack in as much as we can and as long as we don’t deviate from the plan or get sidetracked, we can get it all done. But you and I both know that trains run late, WIFI goes down, we get sick, and sometimes we oversleep.
We are human. We were made for work, that is true. We were also made for relationship. I wonder if our rushing to accomplish things demonstrates our misplaced desire for achievement over our true longing for relationship.
I mean, if I am too busy to stop and listen to someone for fear that I may not get everything accomplished, is that a problem?
Let me clear: it’s not that being busy is a problem. Everyone is busy. We can all fill time with something. It’s being in a rush that may indicate where our priorities -- and our hearts -- are focused.
In Luke 8:40-56, Jesus and his followers were approached by a very distraught and worried religious leader. You see, this man -- named Jairus -- had a young daughter who was dying. Jairus believed that Jesus could help her (and him!) if he would quickly come to his house. Jesus agreed and headed in the direction of Jairus’ home.
As they went, the crowds pressed in on him. In the midst of the crowd was a woman who had a serious bleeding condition for over a decade when she approached Jesus. She had spent all her money on copays, seen all the top doctors, and been given no indication she could be helped. She believed Jesus could heal her, so she risked being humiliated by reaching out and touching Jesus’ clothes.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked his disciples.
In my mind, there is an audible record scratch sound right here. Everyone pauses and looks at Jesus. One of his followers (who may have invented the use of the Savior’s name as a curse word here) says exasperatedly, “Jesus! There are crowds of people pressing in on you and you ask who touched you?”
So, I may have used some artistic license on that part. You can read the passage for yourself though. But since I’ve taken some license, let me share a little more.
If I were one of Jesus’ disciples, I think I would have been very, very frustrated with him right here. Having just seen a well-known, religious leader beg Jesus to heal his dying daughter, I would be thinking about what a great career move it would be for Jesus to heal the daughter of such a respected man. “We’ve been given our mission,” I’d say to myself. Did I mention that Jairus’ daughter is dying? “There’s no time to spare. Let’s go!” I’d say under my breath, "But no. Jesus is stopping because in a crowd of people someone touched him? Seriously! Doesn’t he know we have important stuff to do? Doesn’t he know that the leader’s daughter is running out of time? Doesn’t Jesus care?”
And if I had asked those things aloud or to myself, I would only have to watch how Jesus lived to find the answer to my pride-filled, productivity-driven heart.
Jesus is always busy, but never rushing.
Not only does Jesus stop to speak with the sick woman, he heals her and arrives at Jairus’ house to heal his daughter too.
Jesus was always busy, but never rushing.
You might say -- I know I have -- “Well, that’s easy for Jesus. He’s God and he knew who he was and what he could do.”
To that I would reply, “I think that is exactly the point.”
Jesus knows who he is. He is well-acquainted with his identity. It is because of his knowledge of who he is that he has certainty about how he gets to live.
It’s the same for you and me.
If we truly recognize -- heck, when I truly recognize -- that I am the creature not the creator, I may lower my expectations for all of my busyness. When I recognize that I am loved by God for who I am and not what I do, perhaps I will no longer feel the urge to prove myself by getting everything done. When I can admit that I have limits because I am human, perhaps then I will find the value in slowing down with others rather than checking off tasks.
There is so much joy to find in work and relationships and rest. In this life it is good to be busy. But slowing down is not another task to add to that busyness--it's something we're free to do in the midst of it. As we learn to rest in the finished work of Jesus, we find the freedom to be busy without the need to rush.