“Busyness” Finances “Time Poverty”

Jerry Novotny OMI – “How are you?” Are you one of those who reply, “I’m busy.” If so, you are not alone. In a recent survey taken, 70% of people who were asked this question replied, “I’m busy.” Ask yourself, do I suffer from “Time Poverty”, do I really need to be as busy as I am? Is it possible that being busy-busy-busy is my way of avoiding the more important issues in my life? Another question, do I set aside time for God? In the Bible, Jesus tells Martha that what Mary is doing, is a very important for life. In fact, Jesus states, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing…” The message is loud and clear. Jesus is asking Martha, “How much do you really love me? Can you find room for me in your busy schedule?

Several years ago, an experiment took place in a New York City subway. It is not unusal to hear musicians playing during rush hour, hoping to earn a few dollars in tips. However, on this particular morning, something extraordinary happened. The world renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, brought his 300 year old Stradivarius violin into the subway and began playing classical music for the people as they rushed off to work. He did it as an experiment to see if anyone would recognize him or, at least, recognize the music he was playing.

During this time, over one thousand people walked past him. Of all those people, only seven took the time to stop and listen. And, believe it or not, only one person recognized him. To the great majority of people rushing off to work that day, Joshua Bell was just another guy playing music in the subway. Most people were oblivious to the great talent that was there playing some of the best classical music ever written.

This is what is happening in the world today. As Christian disciples, we are called both “to rest” and “to serve”. However, research shows that human beings in general tend “to serve,” to do whatever it takes to keep busy, to avoid facing the truth of their lives. They are scared of idleness because “to rest” would mean having to really consider what they want out of life and to experience who they really are. It is like a protective strategy. Humans try to isolate ourselves by having a long “to DO” bucket list and convince themselves they are moving in the right direction. In reality, they find themselves “overcommitted”, “worried and troubled about many things.”

Jesus pleads with us in Matthew 11:28-30 to run away with Him, to listen to Him and to rediscover our life. Jesus is inviting us to walk with Him, to work with Him. I will show you the way, he says. Watch me, watch how I do it. My yoke is easy and light. In my love, you will find time “to work” and “to rest”.

Isn’t it true that we often are in such a rush to get where we’re going that we fail to see the beauty all around us? Sometimes, where we need to go and what we have to do seem so urgent that it causes us to overlook the extraordinary things taking place all around us. We take them for granted. We also treat the extraordinary people we pass by or even live with that way. We fail to see the good in them.

The Bible says that busyness leads to doubt and a spiritual disconnection from God. In Psalm 46:10 there is a direct link between being still (“to rest”) and knowing that God truly is God. If we are too busy (“to serviceable”) for God, our stillness before Him will vanish, along with our peace. Busyness crushes our spiritual vigor and effectiveness. Hurry is the great enemy of our love for God.

What are some dangers of being too busy? Chronic stress is one downside of busyness, which can lead to anxiety, depression, and physical health problems such as heart disease and obesity. Additionally, poor work-life balance can lead to physical health problems such as poor sleep and digestive issues.

There have been times in my life when I believed all my happiness revolved around how busy I was. If I was busy, I was using time wisely. If I was busy, I was proving to myself that I was valuable. If I was busy, I was creating the possibility of a better life in the future. However, being busy didn’t make me feel happy, it only created the illusion that someday I would be happy.

Busyness does not apply only to our current generation but also existed in the time of Jesus, especially in Nazareth. For thirty years, He had lived and worked among his family and friends. But they fail to recognize Him for who He truly was. They never really knew Him. To them, He was nothing more than an ordinary carpenter from a small town. We can imagine them saying to each other, “Who does this guy think He is?”

The attitude that caused so many people to walk past Joshua Bell in the subway and that caused the villagers of Nazareth to reject Jesus, is on display in today’s world. We hear it from the atheist who says, “If God really exists, why doesn’t He just show Himself?” What they fail to realize is that God’s glory is on display all around us in the beauty of nature and in the goodness of human beings made in His image and likeness. Just as the Pharisees doubted Jesus was the Messiah because He ate with sinners, so people today doubt the Church is the place where Jesus makes Himself present in the world because we are sinners.

We don’t have to travel far to find God. We don’t have to have mystical, religious experiences to draw close to Him. God is all around us. God is always with us. If we cannot find God in our day-to-day life, we will never find Him. Just as Jesus was living and working side-by-side with the people of Nazareth, so God is by our side always, at every moment of our day, in every situation we find ourselves in.

How can we discover this God who is always with us? We can only do it by slowing down. To find “Mary moments” in our busy schedule. As an example: it is important for us to start the morning with a few minutes of quiet and solitude. Our days can be so busy that we want to rush immediately into everything that needs to get done.

By waking up a few minutes early and sitting alone with our minds raised up to God, we will have a sense of His presence within us. That serenity will carry us through the day and make us more aware of God, of people, of the beauty and goodness that is all around us. And, little by little, we will discover that the ordinary things around us aren’t so ordinary after all.

God’s continual presence will help us to put things into proper perspective. Are all these activities really as urgent as they seem to be? Are they worth losing our awareness of God, of life itself? Probably not. Next time someone asks you, “How are you?” Try choosing Life.

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