“Gotta go!” Dave looks at his watch, kisses his wife, and walks out the door. With just enough time to get ready and leave for work, Dave doesn’t have any time to reflect on the day and pray. “I’ll do it later,” he thinks to himself. At lunch, quickly bowing his head over his chicken casserole leftovers, he says a perfunctory, “Thanks, God. Keep me focused today on what I need to get done. Amen.” As with most days, since the job is particularly tiring, once Dave gets home, he relaxes with some TV, dinner, and conversation with his wife. Exhausted when he heads to bed, he says a prayer before he jumps under the covers, but he loses his train of thought. “Goodnight.” On to the next day.
Noted speaker, author, and pastor- John Ortberg- asked of his good friend and spiritual mentor, Dallas Willard, what he needed to do to be spiritually healthy. Expecting some bullet points and great wisdom from this spiritual giant, Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” After pausing and a re-emphasis of the same statement by Dallas, John wrote it down. In a hurried fashion, then he asked what was next. “There is nothing else,” said the wise man he spoke to. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today.” (Find the story here.)
This hurry is the same thing that keeps us running around with just one more thing to do and one more place to go. It is a problem of a hurried heart. It is not the same as having many responsibilities. Hurry is the rush of “one more thing,” being busy is having a lot to do. The latter can be done with peace, a calm heart, rest, and love. The former cannot. It is not settled, is not content, and it does not rest.
How does hurry hurt us? It keeps us thinking outside of the moment. It requires another accomplishment to be satisfied. It has no end. It does not fulfill. We cannot have a close relationship without spending time, without sitting and listening and being with someone. The hurried spiritual life is as fallacious as the hurried relationship. Sprinkle a few minutes in here or there, say some nice things, and be on your way. It does not work.
Distractions abound. Tasks require our attention. There is a limitless ocean of needs. But a healthy spiritual life requires slowing down. It re-prioritizes. It takes a breath. To quote Psalm 46:10 (ESV): “Be still, and know that I am God.” I am now closing my computer to do just that.