Sunday, October 31, 2010


This has been a busy weekend. I was technically off on Friday; had an old college friend stop in for lunch -- we hadn't seen each other for about 15 years, so that was a kick. But the upcoming busy weekend also meant that besides enjoying lunch, I spent a lot of "free time" on Friday doing prep work. That's the reality of what I do, much of the time.

Friday evening we went down to Bethel University where my elder daughter lives in a Wizard-of-Oz-style whirlwind of activities, jobs, and occasionally classes. It was Family Weekend at Bethel, so we got to attend the Family Weekend Wind Symphony Concert, which was quite enjoyable. I do have to confess, however, that I'm not very good at shutting off my brain and so I drew up notes for Saturday morning's breakout presentation during the concert. Multitasking.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early. I was the chief grand poobah for Central's "Get Infused" seminar about the Bible, which means I was overseeing logistics, doing the large group sessions, making sure facility was ready, etc., and a few other odds and ends. The seminar was amazing, everything went better than I expected, and only in retrospect did I see half a dozen things I wish I'd done different. But all in all I was pleased with how it turned out. The seminar went 8-11 am, so I was at Central by 6:30 and left about 11:30 after all was said and done, ran home and grabbed a quick lunch thanks to Julie who had it all ready to go, ate quickly, and we jumped out the door to drive back down to Bethel to watch the Bethel Royals take on the Concordia (Moorhead) Cobbers on the football field. Great game, got to sit with Erica and some of her friends and their folks, beautiful day to watch a game, and by the middle of the fourth quarter it was a rout (Bethel was victorious) so we left to drop off a few items for Erica and head back north to Elk River where Julie dropped me off at the church again for Alpha. Met with the leaders, gave the large group talk, enjoyed catching up with a few of the team members during the small groups' time, visited with a few participants as it was all breaking up, cleaned things up and got home by about 10 pm.

Sunday morning I wrote my 1/3 of the sermon -- we were doing something innovative with Paul, Sonja, and me each preaching a portion of the sermon -- while I made breakfast and got ready and drove to Central. Got to church for the usual Sunday morning whirlwind of activity, faces, conversations, etc., which I always enjoy. Then at two p.m. back at Central for the Confirmation worship service, which lasted until 4 pm by the time I finally got a piece of Confirmation cake. So tonight I relaxed and watched the Patriots make my Vikings look bad -- it wasn't too tough -- and then Julie and I needed to have our November budget discussion, which we try pretty hard to get done before the first of the month, which is tomorrow.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because in the odd peaceful moment here and there, I wonder why we as a culture are so proud of our busy schedules. We compare how hectic our lives are. We feel somehow vindicated -- or at least important -- if someone wants to get together and we just can't. Too much going on.

Why do we want to be busy?

Oh, you say, I don't want to be busy, I would love to have a peaceful weekend, I don't want my life to be like this. Of course you do. I grouse about my busy schedule frequently, but do I change it? No. So either 1) I'm in bondage to some fearsome power that forces me to overschedule myself, or 2) I'm choosing this pattern for my life. Or maybe a little of both.

It would be easier if it was all #1 above. If there was a giant, or a demon, or a dictator who forced my busy-ness, I would be off the hook. But I daresay that at least most of my hectic pace is of my own choosing. And so is yours.


I wonder if, deep down, we believe we're worth more if we're working harder. My younger daughter is taking a bunch of difficult classes, playing piano for a couple extracurricular things, and has a vibrant social life. I see her trying to hold everything together and I wonder why she does that? (Of course, I should look in the mirror ...)

I listen to conversations in restaurants and hallways and I believe we think our worth is directly proportional to our stress. When I have a weekend like I've just had, I need to be very, very careful, because I can easily get addicted to the adrenaline rush of overscheduled life. Tonight I'm looking around and thinking, "How much more can I fit in over the next few days?" I think, "I'll get so much done!" But the things I end up doing are cheap plastic imitations most of the time. Too often I need authentic relationships, but I'm addicted to facebook.

What would it look like if we didn't just take a weekend, or a day, or a vacation once a year -- what would it look like if we adjusted our schedules so that we worked at about 80% of our capacity? What if there was time in my day to be interrupted? What if I regularly spent time pondering things, listening to the wind in the trees, watching the clouds move? What if I had energy for last minute things that might come up? Many days those last minute things would not come up at all, and I'd be tempted to think I was wasting time. But maybe I would learn something valuable in those "wasted" moments -- something the Bible consistently points me toward, but I usually hare off in another direction:

"In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength ..." God said this through the prophet Isaiah a few thousand years ago. (See Isaiah 30.) The saddest part of this verse is the last phrase. God lays out this beautiful promise, but then observes, "... but you would have none of it." If ever a verse was written to describe me and my culture, this is it!

No comments:

Post a Comment