We live in a constant state of hurry. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we have going on, we are always trying to move faster. For example, this is what happens when I am ready to check out at Wegmans. Now this is only how I check out at Wegman’s because if I’m at Weis I always use the self-check because I think it is faster, but at Wegman’s I will first count the number of items I have to see if I can go through the fast checkout lane and if I can’t then I will scan the entire row of cash registers to see which line is the shortest, then I’ll look at how many items the people in those lines have and how quick and efficient the cashier looks and then I’ll make a determination as to which lane will be the fastest. You know you do this too, right? Now here’s the thing, how long does it take us to make this evaluation and decision, a few seconds? The reason is because we have lots of practice at this, we do it all the time because we live in a constant state of hurry.
Now it wouldn’t be so bad if it ended there, but it doesn’t does it? Once we make the decision which line to get into at the grocery store we then make a mental note as to where we would be in every other line and we mark our progress to see if we actually did pick the quickest lane. If you are like me, you never pick the quickest land which means we just get frustrated either at ourselves because we picked the wrong lane, or the cashier because they didn’t scan fast enough or the customer in front of us because they happen to be the one extreme couponer around who has a coupon for every item they are buying. What’s really sad is that there are times I do this and get frustrated and then realize that I have no place to be so why am I in such a hurry.
I was in a hurry because our lives in a constant state of hurry. The speed limit is no longer the speed limit, it is the speed minimum. If people aren’t going 5-10 miles over the speed limit on I99, we get frustrated and pass them. Microwaves don’t cook our food fast enough, just this week I ate some lukewarm macaroni and cheese because I didn’t want to leave the dish in for the extra 30 seconds. And the most popular coffee makers right now are single serve machines that can give you a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate instantly. I’m thinking I don’t have to work too hard to convince you that our lives are too busy and our schedules are a little out of control because you are all living this way too. What is scary is that our children are also living this way.
When I was growing up I was busy, but I was busy with about two things, music and church. I was in the marching band which was only spring and fall, I took music lessons during the school year and I was active in my church. Other than normal school work, that was it. Today, our children and youth are involved in multiple sports year round that sometimes require overnight trips to tournaments. Then there is dance, concert band, district band and chorus, drum lines, art, drama, scouts and advanced classes in school so that when they graduate from HS our children already have earned college credits. But to make sure they can actually get into college they need to have more than advanced college courses, they also need to volunteer in the community and be on student government and then to help pay for the skyrocketing car insurance once they turn 16 and get their car, they need to go out and find a part time job. How they have any time for facebook and texting is beyond me, but they do! What is sad is that in these out of control schedules of our children and youth one of the things that is often pushed out is being involved in things that nurture and deepen their faith. Although I am excited that this weekend we have 23 youth on a retreat that will not only provide them some time away to ski and build relationships with one another, but also deepen their faith and their understanding of God’s place in their lives.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that our lives are out of control. The lives of our children and youth are out of control. The schedule of our families is out of control and there are consequences to this out of control lifestyle. Kirk Byron Jones in his book Addicted to Hurry says that the result of our hurried lives is that we don’t see clearly, we don’t listen carefully, we don’t think deeply and we don’t savor life fully.
When we get really busy we don’t see clearly the things that are often the most important and the things that are right in front of us. Billy Graham tells the story of when he was out in LA doing his first round of revivals. His daughter Ruth had just been born and he had left her and his wife back in NC. During the revivals Billy’s family came to visit with him and when he saw his sister in law holding his own daughter Ruth he asked her who the baby was. He was so busy that didn’t even recognize his own child. Before we get too critical of Billy Graham, the truth is we can all get so busy that we don’t see the needs of our family and friends who are right in front of us. We can get so busy with our own schedules and activities that we don’t see the hurt or disappointment in the eyes of those who need us. We can get so busy that we fail to see the beauty God placed in the world around us.
Another consequence of our out of control lives is that we don’t listen carefully. We might say we are listening to someone, but in reality we aren’t listening we are thinking about what we have to do next. We aren’t even thinking about what we are doing, we are thinking about what we have to do next. When we don’t listen carefully relationships suffer. Marriages break down, children become isolated, and friendships fall apart all because we fail to really listen.
Our hurry up world also means we don’t think deeply. Thinking deeply means taking the time to reflect on things so that we can learn from them. This is called wisdom. Wisdom is really just life experience reflected on and learned from. Wisdom develops when we take the time to ask the question, what does this mean and what does this mean for me? Those are the questions we need to ask as we read Scripture and pray and read the news and reflect on the decisions and choices we make every day. If we are going to gain wisdom and perspective in life we need time to simply think deeply. I fear that in our hurry up world where every message needs to be expressed in 140 characters or less, there is no room for deep thinking which means we will struggle to become really wise.
Our out of control lives also means we don’t savor life fully. We are so busy running from one event to the next that we never really enjoy what we are doing. We need to stop and celebrate what is taking place in our lives. We need to nurture friendships and strengthen families and we need to take time to thank God for all that He is doing in our lives. When we get too busy – all of those things suffer.
Again, my guess is that I don’t need to convince you that we are experiencing all these things because you could tell me stories of how you aren’t able to see clearly, listen carefully, think deeply and savor life fully. So what’s the answer? If you are like me, then right now what you want is the quick 3 step solution to that you can apply to your busy life and then move on to the next thing. Well, that’s part of the problem. So let’s just stop for a moment.
Maybe that is part of the answer, maybe we just need to stop for a moment. Maybe we need to stop and confess that our lives are out of control and that we need to make some changes. Maybe we need to stop, take a deep breath, look around us, look at our phones, calendars, daytimers and schedules and admit that our lives are out of control and that we need to live differently starting today. Do you know what this is called? Stopping to confess our out of control lives is called repentance. Repentance means to turn, more specifically it means turning away from a life that God doesn’t want for us so we can grab hold of the life God does want for us. So maybe what we need to do is just stop and repent because the out of control lives we are living is not how God wants us to live, it is not how God ordered the world and we know that because God has told us.
From the 10 commandments we heard how God wants us to order our lives. Let’s go back to Exodus 20. God wants us to take deliberate and intentional times to rest. Think about it, there are over 630 laws in the Old Testament and taking time to rest makes God’s top 10 list. God says taking time to rest is right up there with thou shall not murder and steal and worship other gods. God is serious about our need for rest and so it is time we started to get serious about it too.
Now this commandment begins to teach us how to live differently. Look at the first word here, remember. When we begin to slow we are able to stop and remember that God calls us to rest is because God created us to have a certain rhythm and flow in life We need to remember that we are God’s children created in God’s image and God took a day to stop working, rest and renew so we should too. This is why worship is so important to our day of rest because worship helps reminds us who we are. When we come together in worship we are reminded that we are God’s children, God’s people, created in God’s image so just like God, we need periods of rest.
God created a day to rest because rest is important to the quality of life. Rest is important to the survival of the world. Think about it, the ground needs time to rest and renew if it is going to produce good crops. Farmers will allow fields to rest for a season or even a year and even the winter is a season of rest for the ground and the snow helps provide water for the next growing season. The world needs rest because it is how God ordered it to be and we are no different. We need rest if we are going to survive in life and faith and the first thing we need to do is to remember that.
So the antidote for our out of control lives is to remember that we need rest, but it’s not enough to just remember that, we have to actually do it, application is…. (everything). So we need to actually stop doing things in order to rest, but to stop doing things is hard because for most of us, what we are busy doing are good things. Since we can’t just stop doing our jobs (remember while God calls us to take one day to rest that means he calls us to work for 6 days, so stopping work is really not an option – just to be clear!) what other things can we stop so we can have time to rest.
For many of us this might mean deciding between many several very good things, but are we willing to give up something good in order to experience the best that God has for us. Here’s the thing, if we aren’t willing to give up something we stand to lose everything. Can I say that again? If we aren’t willing to give up something, even something good, we stand to lose everything because at some point in time things will fall apart. Do you remember back to the life apps series when Scottie Showers ran on the treadmill and tried to hold on to everything? He couldn’t do it and eventually he dropped many good things. So what can we stop doing in order to rest and make the most out of the good things God has given us?
This is a difficult question and I have included it on our next steps because it is not a question to answer quickly. Deciding what good things we might need to give up requires some deep thinking and wisdom. So I want to invite you do this. Take some time to think deeply this week about what you might need to stop doing in order to rest. If you are part of a family, this might need to be a family decision. You may want or need to talk about it with your spouse or children because there might be implications that will affect others.
What we need to stop doing is just one half of the equation, we also need to ask ourselves what we might need to start doing, or do more of that will help renew our lives. So what brings joy to our lives? What recharges our batteries? What makes us feel alive and connected to God and others? If we can identify these things, then we need to make sure we order our lives in such a way as to include them on a regular basis. Maybe it’s walking in the woods or painting a picture. Maybe it’s listening to music or playing music or reading a book. One of the things that helps me renew and recharge is to run. I started to run because I wanted to lose weight, but after a year or so I realized that it helps me recharge. I don’t know if it is the actual running or if part of it is just being outside in the beauty of God’s creation, but running helps me recharge which is why if you drive airport road during the middle of the day you might see me out there, even in this weather.
Not only do our daily and weekly routines need periods of rest and renewal, but seasons of our lives need it as well. That is what Jesus teaches us. I want us to end with what we heard from the gospel of Mark because it is some of the most powerful and maybe important teaching of Jesus for us to hear today. The disciples had been out working long and hard and they were exhausted. They were so busy that they didn’t even have a chance to eat. Does that sound familiar? If it does, take heart because God is concerned about that kind of schedule. Look at Mark 6:31b. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
Jesus calls the disciples away for some time alone. He wants to remind them who they are and where their power comes from (not from themselves but from God), he wanted them to physically stop moving and get some rest and he wanted to them to renew their hearts and minds by reflecting on all that was going on. Since our lives are always going to be lived at a pretty hectic pace, we need to set aside time to recover and renew ourselves.
One of the things this sermon series will show us is that in many ways our lives are out of control and we are the ones who need to change them. We are the ones who need to repent, to stop and confess that things are out of control, and that we need to start moving in a new direction. The answer to the hurry up pace of our lives is to remember who we are as children of God who need to stop and rest and then we need to find ways to renew ourselves and recharge our lives so we can see clearly, listen carefully, think deeply and savor life fully.
Antidotes for an Out-of-Control Life ~ Slow Down
1. The consequences of a hurried life are that we don’t:
• See Clearly
• Listen Carefully
• Think Deeply
• Savor Life Fully
How have you experienced this in the lives of others?
How have you experienced this in your own life?
Confess this out-of-control lifestyle to God and ask for His grace and forgiveness.
2. In order to take God’s command to rest more seriously, what ONE thing (even one good thing) can you stop doing?
How can this free up time to improve other areas of your life?
3. In order to renew and recharge your life, what ONE thing that brings you energy and joy can you make sure you do more often?
Who can help hold you accountable to making this change?