Thursday, July 13, 2017

Haste Makes Waste

You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased (Mark 1:11).

There’s this fellow I know who’s always in a hurry. I’ve forgotten his name, but I’ll never forget his pace. 

He’s involved in everything that goes on down at the church: He’s a chairman of committees, a leader of small groups, a teacher of small children, a whirlwind of pious fervor and activity. His life is full of bother and commotion. You can pick him out of any group: He’s the one who wrings his hands every fifteen minutes or so. Just being around him makes me tired. 

But his hectic pace doesn’t seem right to me. In the first place, I don’t see Jesus running around like that. He was never in a hurry! He had an infinite job to do and only 3 1/2 years to do it and yet He never seemed to be in a hurry. Even when people made impossible demands on him, his manner was measured and slow. 

Furthermore, Jesus didn’t make it his practice to tell others to hurry up. In fact, the only person he ever encouraged to do something “quickly” was Judas  (Jn. 13:27).

I keep wondering, therefore, why my friend imposes this tyrannical schedule upon himself. Perhaps he has something to prove to his father, to God, or to himself. 

I don’t know why my friend works so hard but I know why I do: Most of my self-esteem is determined by what I do. That’s why I get restless and unhappy when I’m inactive, and that’s why I have to do 
more than God or anyone else ever intended for me to do, more than God designed my body to do.  

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t have to stay busy because he knew that God’s children don’t have to prove anything. Even when they’re doing nothing that seems to be significant, they are significant because they’re deeply and fervently loved. Jesus knew, and he teaches us to know, that our sense of self worth does not arise from what we do but from what we are: fully accepted children of God. 

Once after Jesus’ disciples returned from a mission and excitedly reported their success, he countered with the mild rebuke: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). The disciples felt good about themselves because they had done well. Far better, Jesus observed, to get one’s joy from the knowledge that we are special to God: he knows our names and has them in his book!

The Bible everywhere teaches that God is underwhelmed by our best efforts and unimpressed with our most spectacular achievements. It’s  not what we do for him that matters nor should it matter much to us. What matters most is what we are to him. 

The Father’s  words at Jesus’ baptism are significant: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). What had Jesus done for the past thirty years that merited such unqualified acceptance? He had not yet delivered a sermon, delivered a sinner or done any of the things we normally associate with greatness. Jesus pleased the Father because he was His beloved son.

Our Father delights in us as well (Psalm 18:19). He loves us without boundary or limit. No matter what we do or don’t do he cannot stop loving us. Consequently, we don’t have to do anything to feel good about ourselves; we don’t have to be in a hurry. We can run in the slow lane. We can make time for the peace of God to rule our hearts and minds. We can take time each day to be alone with Him. We can take time to “Howdy” with our friends and neighbors. We can take a day off each week. We can take a vacation. We can miss a meeting or two. We can leave some tasks undone at the end of each day and go home. We can take time to talk and take long walks with our spouses and children. We can hunt, fish and golf with our friends. We can leave the world in God’s capable hands for a season and enjoy His rest—which reminds me a conversation between Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Luther:

Melanchthon: “Martin, this day we shall discuss the governance of universe.”

Luther: “this day you and I shall go fishing and leave governance of the universe to God.”

David Roper 
From A Burden Shared (revised), Discovery House Publishers

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