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Busyness - the 8th Deadly Sin?

Growing up in Lancaster has provided me ample opportunities enjoy various kinds of delicious smorgasbords.  Smorgasbords are great for at least two reasons.  First, just saying the word “smorgasbord” is fun.  Secondly, you get to try a wide array of food, and sample dishes you have never tasted before.  

I have learned that there is as dark side to these delightful eateries; often I leave them having eaten way more than I should.  Much like many of us on Thanksgiving day, when I am done with this feast I slowly waddle away from the table and fight the tryptophan that urges my brain to find a place to nap for the rest of the day.  Beyond the sheer quantity I eat, I noticed I tend to load up on all of the meaty, fatty, salty stuff and eat just enough green things to keep me from feeling guilty.  

In many ways, I think that life in America, especially on the Mainline, is like daily eating at a buffet.  We have so many opportunities presented to us of really great ways we can spend our time.  Especially our youth and kids have so many chances to be involved in so many rewarding and uplifting groups.  There are the Girl and Boy Scouts, club sports, school sports, travel sports, marching band, orchestra, choir, musicals, plays, garage bands, music lessons, tutoring programs, SAT prep, model UN, National Honors Society, Sunday school, Westminster choir, youth group, summer camps, scientific competitions, service groups… the list just goes on and on.  As I said before, any one of these programs are beneficial for our youth to be involved in; many build leadership skills and confidence, allow them to explore their gifts and passions, teach them responsibility and hard work, etc.  

I worry though if, in presenting our youth with all of these different opportunities and experiences, we are doing them a disservice.  I know many middle and high school youth who regularly don’t get to their homework until late at night because of other extracurricular activities that occupy most of their afternoons and evenings.  I have also had many conversations with parents who are practically pulling their hair out trying to find time to take their kids to here and there, and still find time to clean the house, finish up work for the day, and get dinner on the table.  Maybe what we all need most right now is rest, and time to focus on “being” instead of “doing”.  

We tend to think of Sin as something dark and ugly like murder, or stealing.  But sin is often just a twisting of good things so that they take us further away from God.  If we think about sin this way, as something that separates us from a full relationship with Christ, is it possible that busyness, or having a life too full of activity, falls into this category?  Could busyness, or rather maybe over-busyness, be among the things that most damage us? 

When I look at the life of Jesus, I see just how profoundly busy he was (so clearly being busy is not in itself a bad thing).  He was quite literally mobbed by people virtually all the time, and all of them wanted something from Jesus.  And yet, Jesus knew what was most important to him.  Luke 5:15-16 says “…the news about him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Jesus knew that the true source of identity, love, leadership, and empowerment came from God.  His prayer time with God was as essential to him as the eating or drinking. 

I feel very much like God is calling our society, myself included, to put first things first again.  I truly believe that what we need most in order to be whole people, reaching our full potential, is to be connected to our very source of life, love, peace, wisdom, and joy.  We need to learn to put our “being”, meaning our belonging to God, before our “doing”.  Maybe it’s time we took a step back from the smorgasbord of life and reach again for the “bread of life,” which promises that “whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) 

~Andrew

Posted by Andrew Hostetter at 7:00 AM
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