Our Perennial Struggle to Slow Down and Smell the Roses

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God has made us, in God’s own image, for relationship with Him. You know that, right?

And yet, there exists a consistent struggle for us to fully live into this God-given, God-designed relationship – if we’re being honest.

Sure, we have our good seasons, those times when we feel close to God. When the scriptures seem to come alive each time we engage them and our prayer channel to God seems to be operating at high speed – both clear and open.

But then there are those seasons when we struggle to sense the closeness, intimacy, or sense of connectedness that we believe should accompany our relationship with Jesus. God seems distant, the scriptures seem lifeless, and our prayers feel like they can’t get past the 8-foot ceiling above us.

Why is that?

This post is the second in a four part series exploring the ways in which our Adversary actively works to distract us from living the With-God life – the full life in Christ that we are made for.

In my first post I focused on the distraction of noise – one that author Richard Foster identified in the late 1970s when he wrote: “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied.”

Today I want to talk about the cultural distraction of hurry.

Do you live under the constant weight of your calendar? How about your To-Do list?

Do you feel like each and every day is a full-on sprint from the moment your feet hit the floor to the moment your head returns to rest on your pillow at the end of the night?

If so, why is that? What’s driving you?

Hurry has become an epidemic in our North American culture. Many of us live life and break-neck speeds believing that it will somehow allow us to do more with our waking hours, which (we believe – on some level) will translate into a better kind of existence. But does more always equal better? No, it most assuredly does not.

So why do we live such a hurried existence?

A few of the reasons I’ve observed are related to a desire to be important, a fear of missing out, and a belief that we are defined by what we do.

Somewhere within we think that if our friends or colleagues or even our boss see us racing about, from meeting to meeting, that they’ll know how hard we work and believe us to be of value. Similarly, with everything that’s going on in our world there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do or be at it all. But because we fear missing out on anything (that might benefit us – professionally or socially or in some other way) we do whatever we have to in order to (attempt) to do it all. And in the end, because we have bought into the world’s message that you are what you produce, we strive and struggle to do more and be more and create more.

Do you see this? Do you know what I mean? John Ortberg, in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, writes that “hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” And it is the disordered heart, I believe, that keeps us from the intimate connections we so strongly desire with God.

But the thing about hurry is that it only has power over our life if we allow it to.

God’s invitation is not to hurry up and make something of ourselves. It’s to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Be still.

Be. Still.

*Inhale*

*Exhale*

*Repeat*

It requires no hustle, no doing, no struggling or striving.

The way we counter this deceptive distraction of hurry is through the practice of slowing and Sabbath.

In the opening pages of the book of Genesis we read the account of how God created the world and everything in it. And on the seventh day we read that God rested. After everything was done, and God saw that it was good, he rested. But he didn’t have to rest – did he. He is God Almighty. He has infinite power.

So what’s this seventh day rest all about?

It’s my sense that God was both modeling for us a way of slowing down to smell the roses, but also creating rest, knowing that we might be tempted to consistently overextend and overload ourselves.

God gave us rest, and even commanded that we regularly keep the Sabbath, so that we might live well, within healthy boundaries and margins, and ultimately be reminded (on a consistent basis) that He alone is God.

So how do we do this? How do we begin to swim against the cultural current of hurry that is so prevalent in our culture? How do we counter our Adversary in ways that eliminates hurry from the list of weapons he has fashioned against us? How do we begin to practice the disciplines of slowing and Sabbath in intentional and incremental ways? Here are a few ideas to get us started:

1)     Begin to monitor your schedule with a watchful eye. Take note of how full your days are and begin to create margins in which you don’t have to be at or do anything.

2)     Practice saying “no.” You don’t have to do everything. You shouldn’t be at everything. Begin to prayerfully discern what to say “yes” to, and when to say “no.”

3)     Take a nap. Go for a walk. Find some way(s) to re-introduce leisure into your lifestyle.

4)     Identify one day a week where you will break from your normal rhythms and routines and honor God by resting and enjoying all that He has provided for you. It may take some time to get there, but you will be amazed at how God may choose to bless you as you honor Him in this way.

There’s much more that can be explored here. But this will hopefully serve as a catalyst for personal reflection and an openness to consider a better way of life.

What do you think? How big of an issue is hurry in your life?

Order Guy’s upcoming book, Noise. Hurry. Crowds. in our store now.

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Dr. Guy Chmieleski serves as the University Minister at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and author of Seedbed books, Shaping Their Future and Campus Gods. He is also the founder of FaithONCampus.com, a popular blog focused on better equipping mentors of college students. He has earned a Master of Arts in Ministry from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a Doctorate of Ministry with an emphasis in Spiritual Formation and Leadership Development from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Guy and his wife Heather reside just south of Nashville with their five children Derek, Autumn, Kaiya, Noll, and Lailie Grace.

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