There is a Finnish proverb, “God did not create hurry”. The Christian psychologist Carl Jung wrote, “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil”. Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, said, “If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy”. Are you hurrying? John Mark Comer, in his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (Hodder & Stoughton, 2019 – and from where I’ve grabbed these opening quotes), sums it up like this, “Sin and busyness have the same effect – they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even to your own soul”. (His book by the way is available for £4.99 on your Amazon Kindle, or £13.99 in paperback – I wonder if he’s targetted Kindle readers deliberately with the lower price?!)
I wonder what’s your relationship like at the moment with God, with others, with yourself?
We continue in Lockdown. Things are supposed to be simpler yes? Yet for me, I have strangely found myself continuing in a hurry. There is still too much to do and not enough time to be! The irony of course, is that when we work from a place of rest (rather than only rest from a place of work) we become more productive too! Am I struggling to get everything done that needs to be done? Am I giving the time and attention to my family that I should be? Am I spending the time in prayer and worship that as your local parish priest I ought? Honest answer, is: I still need to learn to prioritise and pace myself better.
It’s now February and we are approaching Lent – the period of time from Ash Wednesday (this year, 17th February) until the Eve of Easter Day (this year, 3rd April), where the days are ‘lengthening’ (indeed we even change the clocks to accommodate for this). With daylight hours increasing, it can sometimes even ‘feel’ like there are more hours in the day – or that time is ‘slowing’ (It’s no coincidence that lent is also the French word for slow). And if time is slowing, then for those of us who are ‘busy’ or ‘hurrying along’, then this is good news because there are now more hours to get those important tasks done, yes? (Ha ha!)
All the same, I think Lent is both a discipline and an opportunity. With my New Year’s resolutions (once again) failed, I now have a second opportunity to create a new habit. A good habit – a holy habit! It is the time of year to set aside more time to go deeper with God.
Lent reminds me that I am a human being, and not a human doing. If I have too much to do and not enough time to be, then Lent is here to help me to remember that I am human and recognise again that this means I am a ‘being’ too. I am a person with a soul and spirit, and I need to take care of firstly my well-being not my well-doing.
If this means I must slow down and do less, then that’s what I must set out to do. Equally if I get a little more slap-happy go-lucky and know in my ‘knower’ that I should be achieving more, then Lent is an opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, learn again to say no to what isn’t necessary, to say yes to what is important – and seek to discern better between the seemingly urgent and the especially important, and plan better accordingly. For me, this means allowing for less cramming and more space in the week to allow for the unexpected.
Lent is an opportunity for us to pace ourselves better and realise again who we are: Good people, created in the image of God, but also we’re not perfect either. Never however must we panic about not being perfect – rather the good news of the gospel is that we can always come to God again, invite his healing spirit to wash over us: where needed let Christ forgive us, refresh us, humble us, build us up and restore us. The pinnacle in the Christian Story is Holy Week and the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter. Lent is the season for us to put to death our own faults and bad habits, commit to Christ our own frailties and weaknesses and be raised up to new life and strength in God.
I wonder what tasks can we put on hold for six weeks or what tasks can we even put into the bin? How will we create space this Lent for God? To explore faith, read Scripture, listen to God’s voice, pray, serve others in need, to worship?
Jesus said to his disciples once, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This Lent, may God give you his rest, his peace, his strength, his healing – and all in ‘his time’ – as we journey to the cross and resurrection.
Rev Adam Pawley