My father had his first heart attack when I was two years old and died of another heart attack when I was a senior in college. He was a heart patient all the years I knew him. Though our parents never said so, my brother and I knew that his life was fragile and every day was a gift.
As a result, I grew up with an intrinsic distrust of the future. I have always felt somehow that every day could be my last day. In addition, decades of pastoral ministry have brought me in regular contact with dying people. Consequently, if I were diagnosed today with a terminal illness, I would be as shocked as anyone but not as surprised as some.
When you don’t trust the future, you feel even more urgency about the present. I have always been a driven person, in large part for this reason. I have been “wired” to always be busy, always be doing something that seems important to do, never wasting time for even a minute.
This can be a damaging, even dangerous way to live.
The Holy Spirit wants to speak to our spirits, but we must “be still” to listen (cf. Psalm 46:10). He wants to speak through his creation, but we must spend time in his creation with him (cf. Psalm 19:1). He wants to speak through other people, but we must take time to truly listen to them (cf. James 1:19).
To this end, some wisdom in today’s devotional from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest was helpful to me. Chambers writes: “The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with him. Rush is wrong every time; there is always plenty of time to worship.”
From this statement we find a surprising remedy for hurry: not simply to slow down and do less, but to walk with God wherever we are, whenever we are. The key is not to separate our lives into “quiet” and “active” but to practice God’s presence in both. It is to listen for his voice even in the voices of the world around us. It is to “walk by the Spirit” every moment of every day (Galatians 5:16).
Chambers points to Jesus as our example: “He was unhasting and unresting.” I thought of John Wesley’s testimony, “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake any more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.”
If we undertake our work in partnership with the Spirit, we will have “perfect calmness of spirit.”
How calm is your spirit today?