Awhile back, John Ortberg told the story of seeking the advice of Dallas Willard, author Divine Conspiracy.
He recounts: “Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years.
I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy? Long pause.
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said at last. Another long pause. “Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him, a little impatiently. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.
Another long pause. “There is nothing else,” he said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Hurry. Speed. Noise.
Getting more accomplished in the few hours are all hallmarks of those we applaud. The more that can be accomplished, the more we see that person or organization as a success. And though the speed of life continues to intensify in our day, its actually not something new.
Jesus constantly withdrew from crowds and activities. He taught the same to his followers. In one instance, when they returned from a busy time of ministry, filled with adrenaline, he told them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”
We cram and we cram and we cram more in to our days and schedules and then use one of our favorite descriptions: I am too busy. Hurry actually feeds on itself. The more we hurry, the more addicted we become to the more.
In Invitation to Solitude and Silence Barton talks about how she had to learn the importance of learning to sit — even for ten minutes a day– to let the river water her soul. Ruthless eliminate hurry. Letting the river water into my soul… and settle.
Maybe it’s those times when quiet is hardest to find when we really need it the most. The Psalmist tells us, Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Practicing the discipline of solitude has to start somewhere. Here are three simple steps I am going to take when I think about replacing my hurry with solitude.
It is a call for me to (1) intentional times of stillness, a call to (2) quieting the distractions of my daily life (turn off my cell, the texting, the computer and me), (3) and a call to learning to listen better and just rest in His presence.
Time to move out of the fast lane in the year ahead. How about You?