Lettie Stratton in her book, The Unbusy Life, writes, “In America, we often measure success by how busy we or others are. The busier, the better — and extra points for being stressed out and always on the go.
It is exactly in response to those things why I decided to settle into a year of not being busy. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to do things — in fact I would do a lot in my year — but I wouldn’t subscribe to the ultra-connected, fast-paced, hamster wheel of “success” that, in my view, plagues our country.
Instead, I would leave my stable job and spend 14 months in New Zealand with no phone, no computer, and no agenda except to learn and enjoy my experiences. While terrifying to make this decision in the face of other people’s expectations, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I really do not know if I could give up my cell phone. We face time and text with our children and grandchildren, it’s the way we keep connected to them.
Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Do we have to be still to know God? I know I do.
We’re all busy, so it is worth it to make an effort to be un-busy? Being busy all the time makes it extremely difficult to find time for yourself, because most of the time, people are busy with things they don’t want to be doing, like work, appointments, errands, meetings, obligations, and mindless tasks that just must be done. There’s often not time to prioritize healthier living practices like eating well, exercising, and getting enough restful sleep. It is worth the effort to eat well, exercise, and get a good nights sleep. I know because when I wasn’t making an effort to do those things, I was tired all the time and real crabby. Just ask Joe!
The plot of a Tom Hanks’ movie, The Terminal, where Tom Hanks as Viktor Narorski an Eastern European tourist arrives at JFK in New York, then war breaks out in his country and he finds himself caught up in international politics. Because of the war, the Department of Homeland Security won’t let Tom enter or exit the United States. He’s trapped at JFK- indefinitely. This sounds so outrageous that it is hard to believe that it is based on a true story.
In 1986, an Iranian man named Merhan Karimi Nasseri flew to Paris, France, without his immigration card or other proper paperwork. He never should have been allowed to board the plane without the paperwork, but somehow it was overlooked. Without his papers, the French authorities could not let him into the country, but they could not let him deport either. So, they forced him to live in the airport until they figured out his situation. Nasseri seemed to like living in the airport. For more than fifteen years, he was allowed to remain there. He ate at the food court, read the newspaper, spoke to the airport employees. Even when offered the chance to leave and start life over in a new country, Nasseri chose to stay. The airport’s doctor believed that Nasseri became paranoid and confused by his loss of contact with the outside world. Nasseri said, “This is my dream world. I don’t have any worries.” *
Most of us would not like to be confined to an airport, or anyplace else. But, for Nasseri, it had become his home.
Some of you may be weary from work. Some may be weary from loneliness, or troubles in your family, or illness, or just too many things to do in retirement. The stress on modern people has been well documented–particularly those with families. There are many people today working full-time jobs and then working just as hard off the clock meeting their responsibilities at home.
You don’t have to work outside the home to have more than enough to do. Kim Bolton tells of a workday that many moms can relate to. She looked around at mounds of unwashed laundry and un-mopped floors, and she silently dedicated herself to a day full of cleaning. Just as she was getting into a cleaning rhythm, her two-year-old son called to her, “Hey, Mom, why dontcha come and sit wif me in da big chair. ” Kim protested. She tried to explain how busy she was. She promised to sit with him later. But he continued to smile that charming smile and pat the chair next to him. Finally, Kim put down her laundry and settled into the chair with her son. The two of them snuggled for a minute or so, then her son patted her on the leg and said, “You can go now.”
In a hectic day, he had insisted that she take just a moment to rest with him. He understood her busyness, but he also understood that their time together was more important to both of them. Here’s what’s interesting. For just a moment, Kim Bolton said her two-year-old boy was an example of Jesus to her. ** “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” says Jesus, “and I will give you rest.”
My favorite time when our children were little was the snuggling time. Even when it happened in the middle of the night. Every evening we’d do the 3 Bs, bath, book and bed,
I believe it’s important to snuggle with our children when they’re young. It makes for adults that feel loved and confident.
Some of us are weary from the burdens we are bearing. Others of us are weary from worry. Much of our fatigue is mental and emotional. I am always amazed at the number of things some people find to worry about. An elderly woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow church members. “How are you feeling?” the visitor asked. “Oh,” said the lady, “I’m just worried sick!” “What are you worried about, dear?” her friend asked. “You look like you’re in good health. They are taking care of you, aren’t they?” “Yes, they are taking very good care of me.” “Are you in any pain?” she asked. “No, I have never had a pain in my life.” “Well, what are you worried about?” her friend asked again. The lady leaned back in her rocking chair and slowly explained her major worry. “Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to heaven,” she said. “I’m afraid they’re all wondering where I went.” *** Few emotions take a toll on us like worry does.
Jesus tell us Matthew 11:28-30, “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.”
What does Jesus mean when he says be yoked with me? In Jesus’ day, farmers used a yoke to link two oxen to each other. The yoke was then attached to some other object, such as a plow. Linked by the yoke, the two oxen could then work together, sharing the load, pulling whatever burden was attached to the yoke. Jesus applies this image to our life with Him. You may think that this idea of our getting rest by being yoked with him is a bit strange. A yoke was created for work, not rest. You might think Jesus would say, ‘Take off that yoke you’re wearing—you don’t need it anymore! Doesn’t that feel great? Run and be free of your burdens. Jesus’ solution for burden weariness was not to cast off the yoke entirely; it was to yoke ourselves to Him, to walk step by step through our burdens, whatever they may be.
This is a different kind of yoke, one perfectly fitted to support us through our burdens, fulfilling Jesus’ purpose for our lives. That doesn’t mean being yoked to Christ will always be comfortable, but it’s not supposed to crush us either. When we are yoked to Christ, He carries most of the weight.
Being yoked with Jesus means that we are living in a way that allows us rest because we are under His covering of grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor that puts us in right relationship with Him, and grace is the power God gives us that enables us to live the life He’s call us to. Being yoked with Jesus means he’s sharing more than half our burdens. It means with Jesus shouldering more than half the load, we will be able to live a full and abundant life.
The heavy-laden people Jesus was speaking to did not know grace. Instead, they were yoked to a system of Jewish regulations referred to as “the law.” Obeying the law perfectly was impossible, it would be impossible for us today. Today most of us don’t suffer under the yoke of the law like Jesus’ listeners did, but we have other yokes.
When we believe that being productive in our life’s work depends completely on our performance. When we want to be the best parents possible and we think we’ve failed because our kids are not turning out the want we want them to. How our kids turn out is the measure of our parenting success (we think), so we stress out about every little thing they do wrong or even might do wrong. We want to be best at our jobs, but fall behind because of other stressors in our life, and are overlooked for a promotion or don’t get the raise we think we deserve. Eventually the overwhelming demands on our life, time and energies render us incapable of hearing the voice of God, because we don’t even have time to stop and listen.
When we take on the yoke of Christ and let Him walk with us, He determines the pace, and we find that His grace makes up what we are lacking in our life; peace!
Jesus didn’t tell His listeners to throw off the yoke completely, because there was work to do. Especially for the disciples, they had a church to build!
I agree with the writer of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God;—”
If we’re going to get closer to God, we must find time for God, we must find the right tempo in our life.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
References: *From Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader by the Bathroom Readers’ Institute (Ashland, OR: Bathroom Readers’ Press, 2004), pp. 99-101.
** Kim Bolton with Chris Wave, Finding God Between a Rock and a Hard Place,
compiled by Lil Copan and Elisa Fryling (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers,
1999), pp. 134-135.