Busyness: a socially acceptable way to express a self-centered lifestyle.
First, full disclosure.
1. I am currently surrounded by boxes, suitcases, and for-sale items as we prepare to move. So luggage is foremost in my mind, but I’m not talking about material possessions here (although I also have too many of those). I’m talking about activities, hobbies, projects, and responsibilities.
2. I just finished re-reading Radical Together by Platt. Yeah, that’ll step on your toes.
3. As I was walking briskly home from work a couple of weeks ago, planning what I needed to do first when I arrived, I found myself distracted by the boys playing in the ocean, the old men sitting on the sea wall, and the women strolling leisurely toward some vague destination. I was jealous. I thought, “These people don’t have anything to do or anywhere they need to be. I wish I had time to sit by the ocean.” As clearly as my own thought, the voice of God spoke into my heart, “You do too many things.”
So here goes . . .
We drag our lives around like overstuffed suitcases: about to break a wheel or handle, difficult to manage, risking rejection at the check-in counter or—even worse—bursting open right there in that wide-open corridor, exposing our dirty underwear to the world. But it seems like there’s always one more “opportunity” we just have to take or one more thing we “ought to” do. So we stuff that in, too. But we don’t take anything out. Neither do we ask God if He wants us to focus our energy on the new thing. After all, it’s necessary, good, and right. He can’t object, can He? Plus, all those activities and responsibilities make us feel important, well-rounded, and cared for.
But then, when God asks us to take a walk with Him, we’re slowed and distracted by this huge suitcase that we’re dragging along behind us. We can’t respond promptly. We keep looking back. We tire quickly. And when we come to a rocky, sandy, or bumpy place (basically anything unpaved) . . . or even just a curb, we’re stymied. We can’t go on because of that unwieldy luggage.
Is this really the way He wants us to live? No way. Think about the most Christ-like person you know. Is his or her life crazy-busy? Nope.
I want my life to look more like the Europeans I see in airports. They can go somewhere for two weeks with only a regular-sized backpack. (How do they do that?!?) I want to be able to “turn on a dime and leave five cents change,” as the old folks say. When He says look, I turn. When He says stop, I don’t need a runway because of the inertia of what’s rolling behind me. When He says jump across, I leap instead of plunging headlong into the ravine because I’m still holding onto that stupid suitcase that I’m so proud of.
And here’s another thing. The Scriptures command us to carry one another’s burdens. How can we do that if both our hands are occupied just managing our own junk? “Sorry, I can’t help you. I can’t even listen to you. Do you see what all I’m dealing with here?” Selfish. All of our “obligations” give us a good excuse not to get our hands dirty with our fellow-Follower’s problems or needs.
Will our lives be lacking if we live lightly? Jesus sent the disciples into the world without even a bag, yet they lacked nothing (Luke 22:35). Neither will we.