Since I started writing this article a few months ago, busyness has been a central theme in my life. I think now, more than ever, I feel qualified to write about the burdens of busyness. A quick heads up though, this article was written over a few months (June 28th - Nov. 12th, 2019). Some of the events discussed below have passed, but they were quite real at the time of writing. With that said, let's dive in.
“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” - Eccl. 12:12
Oh, I hear you, Solomon.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently in the middle of summer seminary classes. Those who have taken summer classes at my seminary know that these classes are no joke. We cram a whole seventy-five days worth of class into a nine-day accelerated program. Yeah, it’s rough! Having written eighty-four pages of papers and read four books in the last ten days with thirty-four more pages of papers and hundreds of pages of reading in the days to come, I feel I’m in a prime place to start writing about on a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, the burden of busyness.
Now busyness is something everyone has to deal with. We all have responsibilities and, despite all of us having different levels of responsibility, busyness still creeps up in our lives. When I talk about busyness, I’m not only referring to work; you can also become too busy with other things. Relationships, education, and hobbies are also things that can make us busy people, even if they are activities we enjoy.
Right now, you are spending time on the internet reading this article. Maybe you got here from social media. Liking, sharing, and trying to get noticed in the depths of a rapidly moving internet. Articles, videos, pictures, content without end, scrolling on and on in endless feeds. Maybe before getting on social media, you were at work or school, busy fulfilling the duties required by you. Where do you go from here? A sports game? Hanging out with friends? Shopping? Watching TV or streaming some shows or movies? And after all that is done, what do you do next? Go to bed and start it all over again tomorrow?
We live in a consuming culture, day-in and day-out, taking in information and giving it out. And when we stop and take a good look at it, we can realize that this consumerist culture brings up an issue. We’ve all become busy people who are constantly moving from one activity to the next. This is something I struggle with myself, and it’s something I think we all need to work on at some level. We aren’t designed to live in constant busyness. The Bible gives us encouragement on how to have lives with better balance.
Humans are both physical and spiritual beings. Each side affects the other. If we don’t take care of one side, the other will suffer for it. For example, if we are physically tired, our attitudes will become worse, and, if we struggle emotionally, our bodies will have physical side-effects. Ever heard of the placebo effect? The mind can even make the body respond to things that don’t exist! So to have healthy lives spiritually and physically, we need balance in our lives. We need rest for both our bodies and souls. This is why God prescribes a day of rest to Israel in Exodus saying,
“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God … For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Ex. 20:9-10a; 11a)
The rest God gave was a physical rest from hard labor, but it was also a spiritual rest. It was a time to refrain from work to consider God’s goodness and work on our relationship with Him. It was a time to sit and think, to be thankful, and to reflect. When’s the last time you just sat down and reflected on God’s goodness? I think from time to time, we all find ourselves afraid to be left alone with our own thoughts. We’ll binge watch a show or read a book just to escape our world. Without words, we say subconsciously or sometimes quite literally out loud, “I just don’t want to think about anything right now.” We have so much to do, and so many things that we want to do that we get anxious about our lives, and anxiety starts controlling our lives and our spiritual health. We push our worries aside by keeping busy and and focusing on our distractions. Our worries pile up and grow worse, and the pressure only gets more severe. It’s not good for us, and that’s why God assigned the Sabbath and emphasized why having one is so important.
The word “Sabbath” is a Hebrew word that comes from the word “sabat” meaning “to stop.” The verse in Hebrew basically means, “But the seventh day is a stop for the Lord your God.” But Jesus also clarifies that it’s not only for God but also for you. In the New Testament Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:” (Mark 2:27) So God made the “stop” from all our busyness for our benefit, it’s a day to reflect on him because stopping and reflecting on him benefits us.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”- Psalm 46:10
We need to have time set aside to properly foster our relationship with God. To come to Him with our anxieties and worries so that He can guide and comfort us. The Bible is clear on this. “Be still,” God says. When we are busy, constantly moving from one thing to another, we don’t have time to reflect on God and adjust ourselves spiritually. We need to have balance in our lives between our earthly responsibility, entertainment, and our spiritual needs. Jesus told the Jews in John 10:10 that He came to provide abundant life, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” If we are not careful, one part of our lives can slowly grow into an obsession or an escape from reality and prevent us from living the “Abundant Life” God offers to us.
I’d like to break this thought down further by talking about areas of life that can become “busyness centers,” areas such as work, education, hobbies, and ministry. But, if I were to do that now, we’d have quite a long article that most people would not have time to read in one sitting, so I’d like to publish that as a part two. What I’d like for you to take away from this article today is this: that many areas of your life will attempt to overtake, overwhelm, and consume you if you let them. They will distract you from what matters most and, as a result, weaken your relationship with God, destroy your attitude, strain your relationships with your family and friends, and, ultimately, steal happiness from the abundant life God is trying to give you. So take a Sabbath, stop the busyness of day-to-day life and orient yourself with God's leading. You don't have to take your Sabbath on Saturday, but we all need to have one.
You should take control over the responsibilities, entertainment, and hobbies in your life. If you're not too careful, they might just end up controlling you...