Life is busy. Maybe you’ve noticed?
We’re all in such a hurry. Have you felt that?
I do remember a different era – when life was quieter, less rushed, when minutes and hours were less valuable, less hoarded, guarded. Do you? Or am I giving away my age? They say the internet has changed us, but I wonder, as I look back to simpler days, if the change didn’t start before the common availability of the world wide web?
Maybe the changed started with the microwave as it became a standard household appliance. Quick thawing, rapid cooking – insert raw and frozen, 3 minutes later, viola! supper is served. Microwaves shortened our waiting time. Microwaves reduced the need for families to gather around the kitchen while the meal was cooked by hand, for teenagers doing homework to hang around the counter nearby for a tasty nibble. Appliances that cook quickly reduced the need for toddlers, reaching and pulling out the pots and mixing bowls on the floor, to imitate Mom as she transformed raw meat and rock hard potatoes to a scrumptious dinner to be savored and enjoyed together at the table. Microwaves allowed for fast prep times, and fast eating times, allowing us to run after the evening activities of life – ball or hockey practice, t.v. watching – moving on to the more important things of life. Microwaves lessened family conversation time, gathering time, imagination time, sitting still time.
But maybe it started before the microwave. Maybe it started with the golden arches and their delicious fries and juicy hamburger with that special sauce, ordered and served up in just minutes, allowing the family to eat on the run as they headed to their various pursuits giving a new found excitement and freedom from the mundane and ordinary. The golden arches and the birth of the fast-food industry shortened our waiting time, expedited getting-to-the-next-thing.
Maybe the change from simpler times started before that. More, faster was the inspiration and result of the Industrial Revolution. Maybe it was that? I wonder if that generation could look back and see simpler, quieter days like I can, when time was held out as a gift to freely give away. I remember when families and friends just dropped in to visit, unannounced, and were welcomed with a tea and the willing sacrifice of time. I remember talking for long lengths of time on the phone (the kind attached to a cord and wall) with friends nearby and far away. I remember sending and receiving written letters to and from grandparents, or long-lost school friends who no longer lived around the corner. The delivery of these hand written, time-invested, thoughtful treasures was often weeks, but how they were valued and so excitedly anticipated.
Gone, it seems, are those genuine days of patiently waiting for good things, and fully enjoying these gifts when we received them. Instead, we’ve become an impatient, passionate lot. The faster we get things, the more we want. Maybe you’ve noticed? (Does the scene of Patience and Passion in the little room at Interpreter’s house, from Pilgrim’s Progress, come to your mind?) We’ve come a long way from quieter days when time was spent in real life – when time was cheap and life was real.
Today, sound bites continuously fill our minds, instant clicks and approvals draw our focus, immediate gratification keeps us searching for more, and fluff distracts us and keeps us from thinking clearly. In our search for order, we find disorder; in our longing for peace, we discover chaos; for all of our ‘followers’ and ‘friends’, loneliness abounds. Our time is now spent seeking real life, the hours and minutes have never been so rare or valuable. Yet aren’t there still 24 hours in a day?
Scripture tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Seeking, searching, longing, filling, running to the next thing have been with us since the fall. Scripture tells us of Solomon, the wisest and richest man to have ever lived. This king of Israel knew something of a busy, chaotic, distracted life. With all of his resources, he chased the world down (just not digitally) and got it all. Sort of. He described the pursuit of getting it all as ‘chasing the wind‘ and ‘grasping for oil‘ – impossibilities really.
He said in the end, weary of chasing and grasping, “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 12:8
Solomon chased it all. He got it all. In the end, Solomon, by his own confession, came up empty.
Maybe the problem of our chasing and racing mentality isn’t fast-food, microwaves, or millisecond access to anything we want or desire? Maybe these technological developments are the outward manifestation of something wrong within us – something which drives us passionately to seek more faster and with no wait times, clinging to our imagined valuable jewel, time. Maybe in all of that we are seeking the wrong thing?
Do you ever want to hit the pause button on the roller coaster ride of this whirlwind called life and find relief in peace? I do. I want to filter out the busy, the unnecessary, the lies and distractions. I want to let go and allow truth, life and eternal perspective fill my soul, make me small, and give me focus and purpose for the day – to allow me to be present in the real life of the day’s moments.
I find it early in the morning, before the world is awake, while my phone is put away. The smell of coffee wakes my mind and the words of life, the Scriptures, wake my soul.
This. This is the antidote to the hoarding of deceitfully valued time. This is taking hold of the real treasure. This is the most important thing.
Solomon had chased the world and all it’s trappings more than any of us ever will. Before he parted, he penned these words of wisdom to spare us from the emptiness of the world’s promises:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
We cannot honor and reverence (fear) a God we do not know. To find peace in the chaos we must take up the Word of God and read it. This. takes. time. but it is food for our soul, medicine for our heart, and a reality check for our mind. It is the most important thing.
Maybe you’d like to read, but don’t know where to start? There are many resources out there, just a millisecond away, but here is a wonderful Bible Reading Plan to get you started.
May you feast slowly, savor patiently as you daily read the Scriptures and find peace – peace for your soul.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5