Come Apart before You Fall Apart

Seems like I just put the garbage can out yesterday and here it is Friday, already!

I don’t know if it is a sign of my age or if it is the age in which we are living, but it seems like time is accelerating. I also hear that comment from friends both young and old.

Isn’t it strange that we have so many “time saving” devises that our ancestors never enjoyed? Yet, we struggle to find enough time to get everything done. My grandmother, living on the farm, never enjoyed an automatic washer or dryer. Winter or summer the clothes were hung on the line, often coming in frozen on bitter cold days. She cooked and baked bread and pies on a coal stove. The garden occupied spare moments in the summer followed by canning the produce in the fall. Winter evenings found grandma quilting or embroidering or crocheting. Grandma couldn’t even imagine warming up leftovers in just a few seconds or minutes in a microwave.

So with all our time saving equipment, why is life so hectic? Why are we so exhausted at end of day? I believe there are several possible reasons such as trying to cram more things into our schedule. My grandparents and parents, and for that fact, even my wife and I never heard the words, “soccer mom.” Contemporary parents often strive to provide their children with opportunities to expand their athletic or artistic skills. That is good, unless after dropping off and picking up two or three children, the parent feels harried and exhausted.

Today two-wage-earner-families is the norm. Mother needs to punch the clock at work, but the household duties are still there when she returns home. I am not saying that a mother working is a bad thing, but it does add responsibilities that grandma never had. If either parent also volunteers at the school or church or in the community life becomes more demanding, but there are still only 24 hours in a day.

Another reason for the faster pace may be more subtle but just as demanding. We choose to do all the above but are motivated, not out of true necessity, but from our own egos. How important I feel when I can share how busy I am! Richard Foster, known for his writing and teaching about spiritual disciplines, describes it as playing like I am the CEO of the universe, at least my universe. I confess that as a pastor I appreciated affirmation for working long hours and keeping a busy schedule. But, I must also confess too often it was the image I sought.

Other reasons for our increasingly busy lives include the social media. Facebook and our smart phones scream for our attention and steal discretionary time that we used to enjoy. Consider also our near addiction to entertainment such as television. None of these are evil in themselves. But when they begin to steal time from important things they are harmful.

If your life has become hectic, I will let you decide whether any of the above is relevant in your life. What’s more important is to identify potential dangers of trying to cram too much into the time we have. First, there is the risk of adverse physical symptoms. Stress takes a toll on the human body. We weren’t designed to run on adrenalin 24/7. We are created for both work and rest- to create and recreate.

Our world has been designed for both working and resting. There’s day and night. The Sabbath rest was first modeled by the Creator. After six days of creation, God rested. I am confident it wasn’t from fatigue but to set a pattern for those of us living in bodies of flesh. The Sabbath, a day of rest, was created for our benefit not as a duty to keep. Jesus made that crystal clear when he said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) While reviewing the Ten Commandments with the Israelites, Moses reminded them that the Sabbath Day was given to provide rest for laborers and livestock. Even the Land was to be granted rest every seventh year.

Jesus personally sought times for solitude away from the daily grind of ministry. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) When his disciples returned from a mission trip, Jesus “took them with him and they withdrew by themselves…” (Luke 9:10)

Solomon created one of greatest poems about the seasons of life.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time be born and a time to die,

A time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal,

A time tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh,

A time to mourn and a time to dance …

Solomon continued with his list of potential activities. Check them out for yourself in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

One thing is certain, life isn’t meant to be lived with the pedal to the metal 24/7.

We must come apart from the stressful demands or we will come apart at the seams.

I offer a few prescriptions to help put balance in the routine of life:

  • Plan times for respite. Take a break from the hectic schedule to recharge batteries and refuel the spirit.
  • Seek solitude. Find a place to be alone in the midst of Nature.
  • Practice silence. Unplug the smart phone, pull out the ear buds and turn down the relentless media bites. Listen for a word from your Creator.

Surrender control. Step aside and let Jesus be the CEO of your busy little world