Life at the Speed of God

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. "This is the first and great commandment. "And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Matthew 22:36

I remember reading in the late 1980s that because of computers and their productivity we were entering a world of limitless free time, a calm and creative age. Instead, as the theologian Colin Gunton observed, our world is "chiefly marked by its level of rush, frenetic busyness, and stress."

Instead, our lives have been consumed by the assumption that ever more frenetic work is just the way of the world. If you challenge this imperative, you may be labeled idealistic or unrealistic. To be successful, you must be available 24/7 for your employer. Free time on weekends and holidays has too often become optional. Many Americans do not use their yearly vacation allotments.

As people of faith, how should we think about this activity tsunami? Let's start with the notion that our primary duty is to love our God with all our heart, mind, and soul and to love one another (Matt. 22:37). This is always a good starting place. We can know these lines, but not understand their full significance for our lives. First, each of us needs to focus heart, mind, and soul on the source of our being. And when we do, it follows that all human beings are connected to us, for they are too called to God and are made in his image and likeness. And it is in this love of God and humanity that we can explore the meaning of life.

If we make anything our ultimate priority in the place of God, we have adopted a false idol. When we think of an idol, we often have biblical images of a golden calf (Ex. 32), but an idol is any commitment that is in a higher place than the living God (Mark 13:14). In our time, idols take many forms like work, ideology, status, sexual conquest, power, wealth, physical prowess, or personal beauty.

Having recognized the problem, we can recommit to our spiritual lives. Amidst the daily frenzy, we should disconnect at times from our devices of interruption and distraction. Instead, we should devote more time to other activites where we can find God—prayer, music, reading, Scripture, attending church, helping those in need, gardening, or hiking. Or perhaps we should just be still. "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). To that end, let us also secure a Sabbath each week from production and consumption—from work or shopping or media or dining out (Ex. 20:8-11).

There will be powerful voices arguing against this recommendation. Bill Gates once noted that religion "was not very productive" and there was a lot more he could be doing with his time. Gates assumes output should equal or exceed input, but this kind of efficiency thinking doesn't work with God. Two units of prayer doesn't produce two units of grace. We cannot force the hand of God; his ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8). So let us honor God by ordering our lives as if we value him more than anything else. And let us be still and listen.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Write down your five highest priorities and then write down the five areas you spend the most time, energy, money, and commitment. Is God present and glorified in everything you are doing? If not, why not? How can you bring your priorities to everything you do, so that God remains first? How can you be still and find God?

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be still, to listen for you, for you are my God. Remind me to forsake the false idols of a restless world. They offer only a glittering mirage of riches, fame, or status. Such idols produce the barren fruits of our modern desert. So grant me the grace to keep you before me. I cannot do this alone; my pride resists you. But your living waters can replenish my soul. Now I will be still and await your mercy and love. For you are my God; I have no other. Amen.