Good morning and welcome to Journey Church. My name is Phil Human and I’m a pastor here on staff. And today is the last Sunday of the new year. And I do enjoy this time of year because we get to look ahead to 2019 and make some resolutions about things we’d like to see changed in our life.
The New Year is a good time to stand back and evaluate aspects of our life and where we are headed. And to muster the courage to try to make changes where changes are needed.
And this morning I’m returning to a subject that I think I will preach on every year at this time. Because it’s one aspect of my life that I know I continually need to remind myself to address.
I hear people say that time speeds up the older you get. And though there’s some truth to it I don’t know that it’s culture that we live in that isn’t speeding up and I’m just caught in the flow – being carried along life at dizzying speeds.
And to start I will read you this excerpt from an author named Dallas Willard – I get a devotional sent to me in my email each morning. I don’t always read it but this one came up a coupled of Sunday’s ago and it and I laughed out loud when I read it because the words – they it was so foreign to my soul. I’ll read this and it’s okay if you chuckle like I did.
It read; Every person should have regular periods in life when he or she has nothing to do. The law that God has given for our benefit tells us that one-seventh of our time should be devoted to doing nothing.
I will in a moment ask whether or not this is biblical. But first let me ask you – is this hilarious to you? Did you laugh? Or did you want to cry?
I have a friend and we were working through some material together and one of the chapters encouraged us – as a spiritual exercise – to pick one morning during the next week and sleep until you aren’t tired anymore. Don’t get out of bed until you can say – today I am completely rested.
The next week I saw him and he said – funny thing – I read this assignment to my wife and she started bawling. She was so tired. Small kids. Little sleep.
Did you laugh, or want to cry, when I read these words? You would not be alone.
We are Americans, after all. We get the job done. We work hard. We value hard work and aren’t afraid to put in the hours it takes to get er done. And when we are done working hard – we play hard. Merica! We are always go, go, go.
One time our friend from Mali, Daniel Thera – was here to speak to us at Journey and we went to lunch and I asked Daniel what he thought of America. And he said these interesting words… He said, “Everyone in America is in a hurry.” That was his total summation of America. I was like, yeah, well. We’re busy. We got things to do Daniel! We’re in a hurry!
I’ve heard of being sick with worry! But I think that I’m more often sick with hurry.
It sneaks up in insidious ways. We are sick with hurry. Do you hurry? Hey parents – ever play the game, “Let’s see how fast you can get ready for bed! Ready set go! Let’s see how fast you can eat those McNuggets! Come on darling less chewing more swallowing – mommy has things to do! Hurry up!
A few weeks ago we got a hilarious letter in the mail – from an unnamed office building in town that put out a curse jar and every time someone cursed they put money into the jar and then they sent us $78 buck in the cash along with a note that said, We’re trying. Love it!
I wonder – if we put a jar in our house and we put a dollar in the jar every time we said Hurry up! How much money would be in our assistance fund by the end of your year? How long before the jar was filled up?
Can we admit that we have a problem? Are you, like me, prone to rushing around? In November I got a speeding ticket. Gang – I drive a Kia soul. A 6 speed manual transmission Kia soul. And I got a speeding ticket in it. I almost asked the police officer -bet you haven’t given too many speeding tickets to Kia Souls, huh?
But I didn’t because I was in a rush – I was like – let me have the ticket and get on my way please.
I know I’m not the only one who feels like every day is a string of run on rushes.
Do you know that 86 percent of people who work in America work more than 40 hours a week last year? American’s work an average of 500 hours more a year than the French? (Well, sure – I mean, the French? All they do is drink wine and eat bread and make love and lose wars.) But of those four things, three of them sound pretty good. Wait, except for the last one, how is that an insult.
I know I’m not alone. This is why I’m making a pledge to preach this message every year at this time. I need a reminder that it is God’s desire for every person to have regular periods in life when we have nothing to do. One seventh of our time should be devoted to doing nothing.
It is God’s desire for us to Chill out! Stop.
Of the ten commandments that God gave to the world – and as recorded in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5 – most make sense. All make sense. All sound right – but here’s the interesting thing about them. See for me – I feel guilty when I break the commandments – most of them at least.
For instance – I feel guilty if I lie. I feel guilty if I steal. I feel guilty if I covet. But then I have breakfast and move on with my day. But I feel guilty when I break those commandments – BUT – there’s one commandment I feel guilty if I keep. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
One day a week (1/7th of my days) devoted to doing nothing. If I’m doing nothing? I feel guilty. There’s always laundry to be done. There’s always cleaning to be done. Errands that could be run. And they aren’t getting done doing nothing. Right? I feel guilty if I keep the commandment to remember the Sabbath,
I know I’m not alone – in fact I dare say that if I could read your minds some of you are thinking – “You like hard work? You’re a preacher, you haven’t worked a hard day in your life! – If you want to see hard work – I’ll show you hard work – I’m a farmer, I’m a dock worker, I’m a small business owner – I’m a mom of small kids!
Listen I get it – I don’t even begrudge you those thoughts – I will use your thoughts to condemn you. So – you’ve got a problem too. It’’s okay to be proud of your hard work. The question is – are you regularly committing some of your time to slowing down – stopping – silence?
Now granted – not everyone has this problem. Some people are in fact lazy. And we’ll save that sermon for another day. Because certainly the bible has strong words to say to people who are lazy.
But the irony of the deal is that both over work and underwork are coming from the same source – it’s actually a sense of pride. Proud of my hard work – look at me. Look at what I can accomplish. Or – this is beneath me. I deserve to do nothing.
But neither are Godly. It is God’s desire that when it comes time to work, we work as if we are working for the Lord himself. And when it comes time to not work, we not work for God’s glory too. And that means that whether at work or at rest, we do both for the glory and honor of God.
Author John Ortberg was at one time in the 90’s the teaching pastor at Willow Creek church in Chicago – which was the largest and perhaps most influential church in the united states at one time.
But his heart was unsettled. He wasn’t really growing in his faith. And so he called up a wise sage, a guy by the name of Dallas Willard, and asked him, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?”
After a pause, he heard Dallas say, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Okay, Ortberg says, I’ve written that one down. What else? Another pause. “There is nothing else.”
Ortberg goes on to write, “For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.
Jesus knew the importance of protecting himself from becoming sick with hurry. In fact – if you were to read the gospels (Matthew Mark, Luke and John) I think you’d find that though Jesus was very busy – he was never in a hurry. In fact, at times when life was at it’s busiest, was when we find Jesus being intentional to plan breaks of unhurried time with God.
Let me show you what I mean…. In the book of Mark 6 we read this… the setting is that the disciples had been sent out by Jesus to minister to people in His name, and they’ve just returned and they are full of stories and excitement.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
These ministry teams have had a wonderful ministry- so much so that by the time they all come back to re-group – each of these teams of disciples have people following them.
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,
Now have you ever been so busy that you haven’t even had a chance to stop and eat? Ever been kind of proud of that? It is kind of exhilarating, isn’t it? Look how important I am!
One might think Jesus would at this point turn to his disciples and say, “You know what to do, now, so let’s get to work!” And turn them loose on the crowd. Instead Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mind you – crowds of people with real needs pressing in on all sides. Plenty of work yet to be done. Lot’s of unchecked items on the to-do list. But Jesus says, this work we are doing is too important to not stop and rest. It’s too important to not devote time to solitude.
Luke 5:16 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
This is the manner – the lifestyle Jesus both lived and taught.
Jesus taught us to do the same thing. Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.
Now is this a law? No – it’s a lifestyle. Regular times of non-hurried time with God. Jesus was the master of an unhurried life.
Ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives will bring health and life and healing to our soul. NO one ever hurried himself or herself into a spiritually rich life.
Author Robert Barron writes,
“The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow, since it seeks to savor rather than to accomplish; it wants to rest in and contemplate the good rather than hurry off to another place.”
In 2019 – my challenge is that we slow down. Chill out, for God’s sake. And for ours. Slow down and remember that the world is going to be okay without us.
You know – the day will come when we retire – or are forced out or we sell our business or hand it off to another, or whatever, One day we will not be doing what we are doing right now – and we will discover something that might sound unpleasant to hear so it’s better to hear it now than be surprised by it later…
We will discover that – The world is getting along fine without us running around getting things done. The world has seemed to fill in the hole you thought you were making by stepping out. And when we discover that – will it crush us?
One of the purposes of regular times of not doing anything is to remind us that we really aren’t in control of much – and that everything doesn’t really depend on me.
Let’s talk about how we can practically develop an unhurried lifestyle – one that embraces the idea that it is God’s design and desire for me to have nothing to do.
But before we jump into practical aspects of this – let me remind us not to turn the idea of the Sabbath into a law – God hasn’t asked us to set aside one day a week to wonder whether or not we are sinning by crossing some difficult to discern lines about whether this is allowable or not on the Sabbath.
These aren’t laws. It’s a lifestyle. If we turn God’s desire for us to have a regular times of doing nothing into a law it will crush us, not refresh us. The goal is to give our soul time to refresh – recharge. Renew.
What can we do to develop an unhurried lifestyle?
- Stop. Make it a habit that one day a week, you don’t do what you are normally paid to do. In as much as you are able, try your best to set your week up in a way that one day, you aren’t doing what you get paid to do.
You know what’s interesting about the world we live it – most of us, even as I speak – are carrying our work in our pockets. We love the freedom that comes from a smart phone. But what it means is that every time I look at my phone I see red notifications around the email, and increasingly, texts are replacing emails and they come with this immediacy that demands an immediate answer.
The result though is that many people don’t have a line anymore between – I am leaving work and going home. Which makes it even more important that we establish boundaries in our lives so that we have time away from work.
What if you are a stay at home parent? How do you stop doing that? Great question to talk about later on today with your spouse or support network. How can you carve out some time- a half a day alone – not to run errands or go food shopping or whatever. Just to be alone with God. What would it take? How much money do you need to budget if you need childcare? Who can you ask for help?
Ultimately, it’s worth it. Your children will have a healthier and happier mom or dad. It will make you a better parent if you can work it into your life to have regular periods of doing nothing.
- Slow down. One of the things that Jim Warren taught me that has made my life better is to establish a practice of leaving for appointments ten minutes earlier than you need to leave. That way I don’t have to drive like I’m goggles Pizano weaving through traffic to make it seem like I’’ve got my act together. Leaving early means I can drive slower.
Another way you can slow down is to ask yourself if you really need to be involved in all the things you are involved in? Does your 6 year old really need to be on the Select Steer roping team? We’re on our way to Tuskaloosa for the National steer roping competition. Oh man, well she is 7 years old. – It’s about time she got serious! If she drops out she might never catch up! Steer roping is serious business.
Here’s another way to slow down a bit – consider a fast from media for a time. I found my life was drastically improved by turning off the radio in my car. I found my life was drastically improved by getting rid of games on my phone. My phone is useful to me but it is not sucking the time out of me. And I’m good with that.
It takes courage to be willing to examine our practices and habits – and to hold them loosely before God. But many cannot hold their phone loosely – it has become – well – you know. You don’t feel insulted or threatened by me asking if your face is buried in your phone too much, do you?
I’m really meddling aren’t I? It smarts for me too. I hope I’ve laid it out there for you that I stink at this – but I know God knows best for us. And that means Every person should have regular periods in life when he or she has nothing to do.
- We are going to Stop. Slow. Thirdly we are going to Pray.
Now I’ll use the word pray to stand for doing something spiritual that points us toward God. God wants us to have regular periods of not working – but it’s not just to refresh our body. It’s meant to point us toward God. To remind us that we have a soul and it needs tending to…
So in 2019 we are going to try to build into our week a regular times when we spend some time contemplating our faith journey. Pray a little.
Next week Jim is going to talk about some specific practices that we can use to help train us up in our spiritual life. Just as your body needs exercise to be healthy, there are time tested spiritual exercises that we can use that will help our soul to be healthier and our faith, stronger.
- Stop, slow, pray and finally, Play!
And then we are going to play a little. DO something that’s fun. Take a nature walk. Try your hand at cooking or baking. Read a book that you enjoy. Go hit some golf balls. Go walk around a mall.
Do you know that God wants you to enjoy your life? That he wants you to like it? In one way the highest form of worship is to enjoy the life God has given you and to be thankful for it? To live a full and thankful and Jesus centered life.
It’s okay to do something you enjoy doing. Within reason, right? But if you like mowing your lawn – then mow. If you like tinkering around your garage, then do some tinkering. It’s okay.
Every person should have regular periods in life when he or she has nothing to do. The law that God has given for our benefit tells us that one-seventh of our time should be devoted to doing nothing.
I need to actively pursue doing nothing- in order to remind my soul that the world does not rest on my shoulders, but on the shoulders of the King of the Universe, who invites me to a lifestyle that is unburdened and unhurried.
And I need to remind myself that the most important thing about me is NOT what I accomplish, but who I become. And hurrying around – overworking – is injuring my soul. It causing injury to your soul.
For God’s sake, and ours – in 2019 let’s be intentional about regularly pursuing nothing.