To my own disgrace, it was only within the past year that I began to take a serious look at what it meant to honor the Sabbath, and begin to learn how to obey the commandment. It’s harder than it might seem, and I’ll tell you why. Because we honor busy way more than we honor rest.
We give honor to those who run the hardest and do the most, and now, if we don’t run hard, do more, or have a lot of hustle, we feel lazy and then guilty. But we’d rather feel exhausted than lazy, yes? Anxious and stressed but, praise the Lord, not unproductive.
We live in a time and a culture where productivity is king and if our calendar isn’t full, then we are doing something wrong. And the saddest part of that? We are teaching it all to our children, who will grow up to match our depression and anxiety and feelings of guilt for not being or doing enough.
Is that really what we want? No. I am sure the answer to that question is no. So what does truth look like in this area? How did Jesus model the hustle?
Jesus basically did one thing, but that one thing did many other things.
He obeyed God. Everything Jesus did and said was in obedience to what He heard God saying and what He saw God doing. (John 5:19)
He went from place to place, preaching the gospel, healing, and casting out demons. In other words, He ministered to people. And within the act of doing ministry, disciples were made and taught, relationships were built, people were loved, God was worshipped, and the souls of men were purchased for God. All because Jesus did one thing. He obeyed His Father.
There were times when He was tired, and He was hungry, but there is no indication that Jesus ever felt like He wasn’t doing enough. He never looked around for what else He could do, never chased a side hustle. He just kept doing what God called Him to do.
Unbusy means we are not busy doing what God hasn’t asked of us. It means not looking for the more that we could be doing, and instead seeking God for what He wants us to do, and then just doing that.
And in the act of obeying God, who knows what other things will be getting done? The gospel may be coming to life, someone could get healed, feel loved, or realize their destitute state apart from God. Demons could be fleeing, oh my. Disciples could be made and taught, relationships formed. You could get tired, or hungry, but I would bet it all that you would be less anxious. Less depressed. Less restless. Feel less guilty and less stressed.
There were times when Jesus retreated, and called His disciples to retreat from doing to rest, other than on the Sabbath. Other times, He reclined at a table of food, invited to break bread with sinners. That too was obedience to what He saw and heard from His Father.
In our busy-ness, the art of listening for and hearing God has become, if not obsolete, then certainly less common. We are moved less by the sound of His voice and more by the push and pull of a culture that does not know Him, but has pushed and pulled its way into the Church nonetheless. And now we’re all pushing and pulling to get more done and I just have to ask…is it in obedience to God, or to our own need to be productive?
I pray that you will be encouraged to stop. Listen for His voice again. Listen for what it is that you are actually supposed to be doing, and then just do that.
Raise your kids without rush. Teach them what it looks like to just do what God is telling you to do without the need to add more so that your days are full.
Get tired from the work of love and prayer and moving in the Spirit in the world around you. Go hungry so that you can continue to feed others. But don’t do any of it from a place of worry or anxiety, or control. Ignore the need to keep up, to impress, or to prove something.
It’s a tall order, isn’t it? In fact, I think it’s much more challenging to live an unbusy life of obedience than it is to live a busy life of doing more, because it goes against what culture has instilled in us. It goes against our flesh.
And isn’t that a good thing?