“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” -- Matthew 11:28
One of the great blessings of the Christian faith is the opportunity we have to grow more and more into the image of our Savior. But growing into this more mature and fulfilled spiritual life requires a commitment on our part. It is why, in the life of the church, we refer to things such as prayer, study and worship as “spiritual disciplines.” Growth doesn’t just happen -- we have to desire it as well as work toward it.
One of the many challenges we face in seeking to be more like Christ is finding time in our fast-paced, busy life to be about this. Finding the time, even for a brief spiritual moment, can seem almost impossible since so much of our days are filled with other pressing responsibilities. Presbyterian pastor and author, John Ortberg, shared a conversation he had with his spiritual mentor, not long after Ortberg had begun his ministry at a very large church in the Chicago area. He described to his mentor the pace of his life, and the fact that the church he served moved at a very fast, programmatic pace. He went on to say that, on top of his church requirements, it seemed his family life was spent driving kids to soccer, piano lessons, school, the grocery store, the vet, the mechanic and on and on. No doubt this “life” will sound familiar to many of us. Ortberg went on to describe the present condition of his heart in light of all of the running around at church and home. He then asked this question of his spiritual mentor, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?” After a long pause, his mentor said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Ortberg wrote that down and then said, “That’s a good one. But now, quickly tell what else there is? I have another meeting to get to.” There was a long pause and then this response, “There is nothing else. You must learn to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Ortberg went on to say that while he didn’t understand those words at the time, he eventually got it. “Hurry destroys souls.”
Let the congregation say “amen.” If we understand anything about this life, it is that we live it in a hurry. The more we hurry the more we can accomplish. But the frantic pace we seem so compelled to keep is neither healthy nor helpful. What happens when we are hurried and rushed? When we are hurried and rushed we become anxious and worn out. When we are anxious and worn out we often neglect the one thing that we should be paying more attention to; our spiritual health. Instead, we lay aside or forget to stop and take time with our Lord in prayer, study, meditation, or worship. Too busy to attend to the disciplines that draw us more and more into the life of Christ, our hearts and minds become unsettled. The joy of being first and foremost a child of God is lost to the stress of trying to get so many things accomplished. When we prioritize everything else as more important, we forget the very simple notion that we were created to be in relationship with a loving God.
The results of this hurry and preoccupation aren’t good. Worry, stress and fatigue weigh us down. To live the life we have been created for, we must strive to eliminate this preoccupation with hurry from our lives. We must attend to the path that God sets before us with a joyful intentionality, following the perfect example of Jesus our Lord. May the Spirit of God teach us the joy and the wisdom of slowing down and prioritizing our time with the Savior, remembering the words he offered to his disciples are words he offers to us as well; “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
Chris Leonard is a pastor at Rock Presbyterian ECO. He can be reached at email@example.com.