The Idolatry of Busy-ness

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.

We Americans are a busy people. A sense of ‘rush’ and ‘frenzy’ seem to be the very zeitgeist – the consuming ‘spirit of our age.’ There are so many things that need our attention that busy-ness has become the normal pattern and rhythm of our lives.

The unintended cost of living busy is often a loss of connection to the people around us. Being consumed by work and tasks threatens to leave us detached from the world, cocooned and isolated from the larger world of meaning and relationship. We become more protective of cherished idols of work; and less concerned with our relationships to the world beyond our labors.

This March begins the season of Lent. Presbyterian minister Marcia McFee writes of the season that ‘Lent has often been a time when we think about “giving something up”—a holdover from its penitential flavor in the medieval church. But what if we thought less about “giving up” and more about “making room?”’

In this Lenten season, what if we were to venture to reflect on the cost of being consumed with busy-ness; and perhaps finding value in simpler, quieter gifts of relationship and connectedness.

Genesis can be read literally as the activity of a God frenzied with the work of Creation. All of everything stitched together and completed in six days. But the story of creation is directed at what comes at its conclusion, a day of rest.

Sabbath is what creation points to.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggests that the foundational question posed by the creation story is not ‘how did we get here’ or ‘where did we come from,’ but rather ‘how shall we live?’

This question defines the character of our relationship with God and with one another. Labor and vocation are deeply bound up in the work of creation, but in the end, Sabbath is the proper orientation for human life that seeks to keep all things in proper balance.

The word Sabbath itself derives from the ancient Hebrew ‘shabat,’ meaning ‘to cease.’ Sabbath is that time that invites reflection, encourages us to determine what really matters in our lives, what we value most.

So in this Lenten season, we invite you to consider what it might mean, what benefit may come from finding intentional time to rest, to step away from the rush and busy-ness of life and find peace and quietude in the presence of an unhurried God.