05 Feb Working From Our Place of Rest
We live in a world where everyone and everything clamors for our time. Calendars are full with meetings and activities. Oftentimes there is more work to do than hours in the day. The lines between work and life become blurred as we borrow from the latter to give to the former. If you have children, busyness comes in the form of playdates, school events, birthday parties, activities, PTA meetings, swim meets, recitals, and the list goes on. Somewhere in there, you are supposed to feed them (which often is in the car in between activities), do homework, and get them to bed for a good night’s sleep before you do it all again the next day. Couple that with a full work day, and you have a recipe for exhaustion.
Corrie ten Boom famously said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.” Busyness is a modern epidemic, widely accepted, but it subtly calls you to trade having life to the full for a life full of distractions.
If we are to wage war on busyness and truly find rest, we must have an honest conversation about why we are so busy to begin with. Deeper than just the amount of work, to-dos, or things on your calendar, busyness has at its core some form of idolatry. If you are willing to really peel back the layers on your busy lifestyle you may be surprised at what really drives it. For myself, busyness is rooted in pride and my identity. It is hard to even write that, because who wants to admit they have a pride issue, but I suspect it is more rampant than anyone wants to consider. When my calendar is full of appointments, I feel a sense of importance. So I pack more in, which feeds my need for value. If my heart is not attuned to my purpose (which is really God’s purpose), my value is only found in being needed and busy, instead of an identity rooted in who I am in Christ. Work becomes my idol and rest becomes a guilty pleasure instead of an act of obedience.
Compare this to Jesus. He was clear where his identity flowed from and how his identity guided his daily choices and actions. In Matthew 3:17, God the Father clearly conveys identity to Jesus when he says, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Later, in John 5:19, Jesus states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” Jesus’ didn’t need to prove himself by packing in more activities in order to earn God’s favor (or the favor of others). Rather, his understanding of his Father’s pleasure in him allowed him to go about his daily work with peace and confident purpose.
Of course, there were times when people tried to speed him up and in response he almost seems to move more slowly. One of the best stories that illustrates this is found in Luke 8. A man named Jairus, who begged him to come heal his dying daughter, approached Jesus. Jairus was a leader in the synagogue and likely a very important public figure. Now stop and think about how you would respond to a VIP coming to you with an urgent need. If you are like me, you would get right on it!
Jesus sets out to help Jairus, but along the way he stops to interact with a woman in the crowd who had a chronic illness. Imagine Jairus anxiously standing there, waiting while Jesus has a conversation with this woman who was outcast because of her condition. His daughter is literally dying, and Jesus gets distracted? In fact, while this is going on, word comes back that Jairus’ daughter succumbed to her illness. Now picture the instant wave of grief and even anger that came over Jairus – if Jesus had only hurried, his little girl might have been saved! But Jesus was not distracted at all! In fact, he soon brought the child back to life right before her parents’ eyes. We don’t really know what happened to Jairus after that, but it would stand to reason that his life was forever marked by this encounter in a way that would not have occurred had his daughter been healed while she was alive. In all of it, Jesus managed his priorities based on his understanding of who he was and what his Father was asking him to do.
In order for us to avoid our own lure of busyness, like Jesus, we must understand our acceptance by our Father and continually look to see what he’s already doing. You have to know what your purpose really is – and your primary purpose is to daily bear the image of God out into a world looking for hope. In your workplace, one of the ways you can bear his image is in choosing how you respond to the tyranny of the urgent. When you stay peaceful and confidently focused on the daily work God has given you to do, you move the needle in ways that distracted people cannot, which gives you a beautiful opportunity to give credit to your heavenly Father.
If you find yourself feeling a little defensive about your busyness or trying to justify the good reasons that you are busy, let that be an indicator to you that an idol is present. Maybe it is time to take a look at your calendar, how you spend your time, and how those things align with what God desires for you. Peel back the layers of your heart to reveal the real reason that you are so busy, distracted, or unable to rest. When you find it, confess it to someone you trust. Idols lose power when they are brought out of darkness and into the light. Then run back into the arms of the One who has rescued you and is making all things new. There, you will find your rest.
Sally Stitzer, Advisory Board Member – Northeast Indiana Center for Faith and Work