Has anyone else noticed that busyness is right up there with godliness and cleanliness these days? It’s as if busyness is a virtue. A mark of spiritual maturity. Ask people how they are and they roll their eyes and sigh, “I’m fine, but busy.” Now, to be honest, I must admit that I do this too. A lot. Because, well, I’m busy.
We are reassured by our busyness and strangely comforted by it, even as it saps us of all strength and keeps us from feeling as if we are succeeding at even one of our responsibilities.
-Tim Challies, “I’m Not Busy“
Why are we busy? There are a lot of reasons why people are busy. The reasons are as diverse as the people concerned. Especially if the people concerned are women. We’re good at thinking we’re called to do everything and feeling guilty and miserable if we say no to something. I don’t know why you’re busy, but some of the common reasons why I’m busy are:
- I succumb to peer pressure. It’s fashionable to be busy. Busy means “productive” and “responsible”, right? If I’m not perceived to be busy, I’m embarrassed. I worry that people will think I’m lazy or irresponsible if they don’t know that I’m as busy as they are…or busier.
- I’m proud of being busy. I’m tempted to stay busy with study and work and ministry because everyone I know and respect is busy too. We grumble about how busy we are together. I don’t want to be left out of “the busyness club”.
- I’d rather be busy — and exhausted — than miserable. In periods of pain and stress, busyness keeps my emotions and tears under control. I’m tempted to get busier when life gets harder. If my head hits the pillow as soon as I collapse into bed then I don’t have to worry about my family or my future.
And so I’m godly and clean and busy. I’m busy-busy-busy. I’m too busy. I live in a whirlwind of activity and noise. I’m exhausted. And God, although He’s gracious and generous with His blessing and favour, has a different, eternal perspective: “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing…” (Isaiah 30:15)
I love the idea of being quiet and trusting, but I’m usually better described by the end of the verse: not willing to be quiet and trusting. God, however, is serious. It is in quietness and trust in Him that we are saved and strengthened — not in noise and worry, activity and busyness. Elsewhere in the Bible God says:
- “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
- “And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
- “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
Stopping and hushing in this world of ours is hard. It’s harder than running and shouting — embracing the activity and noise — with the crowd. Deciding not to be busy is radical. It’s almost revolutionary. I haven’t figured out how to do it consistently. I’m not telling you how to do it consistently.
Today, however, I’m encouraging you to find a moment to stop. Hush. Breathe. Think about how you can be less busy. Start by realising that …
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But He never asks me to do it all!”
-Holley Gerth, “Are You in the Guilt Cycle or the Grace Cycle?“