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Busyness is a Drug...and Most of Us are Addicts

How Jesus Plus Nothing is Still the “Good News” we Need





Do you remember the time when Jesus preached a message so controversial that all of the crowds stopped following Him? It got so bad, He even had to ask His own disciples, “Do you want to leave, too?” What was this scandalous message that offended the masses? He told them that they were running themselves ragged to try to become “enough,” and all of their works weren’t making them better. They were making them bitter. Beyond this, many of them had made religion into a business to emotionally batter and alienate people made in God’s image, using God’s name. Jesus’ message was simple: “Your works count for nothing. Only my Spirit can give the life you seek” (See John 6:63).  


After this, they didn’t want to hear Him anymore. Perhaps this is that post for me. I certainly hope not, but I must be true to what the Father is burning in my heart. The words ahead are mostly my self-reflection and repentance, processed aloud. I hope it speaks to you too. If you’re struggling in the same place, I pray you won’t take on shame or the need to scurry to “fix” something. This would be futility, doomed to fail out the starting gate. This is instead a plea to be honest, to admit we’ve got a problem we can’t fix, and to let the Great Physician into the deep parts of our soul, so He Himself can become the healing salve we so desperately need. Here’s the message I cannot escape or shake:


Busyness is a drug that is killing us…and most of us are addicts. 


A “drug," technically speaking, is “any substance (other than food) that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition.”


Intimacy with the Father is the daily bread and true food our souls require. Everything that doesn’t flow from intimacy is a plastic substitute, mass-manufactured to seduce our senses by temporarily relieving symptoms of a universal heart disease called sin. The bitter aftertaste of every illicit drug is that it leaves you far sicker than where you started. To this, “busyness” is perhaps the most illicit drug on the market, leaving a slow burn of devastation to our minds, our relationships, and our legacies in its wake. We are:


Busy searching for significance…

Busy working for worth…

Busy trying to outrun our obstacles…

Busy attempting to produce peace…

Busy negotiating a name for ourselves…


We are starving for hope and keep taking a hit of some foreign, temporary substance to grant us relief, reassurance, respect, or rest. But none of them are rooted in reality


We are God’s. 

We are adored. 

In Him, we are enough. 

His grace is sufficient. 

His strength pours out in our weakness. 


He’s already given us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as the fruits of belonging to Him. They are ours. But fruit only ever appears on the vine as we ABIDE: “Unless you are abiding in me, you are not bearing true fruit.” (John 15:5).


We have a pace problem. I have a pace problem.

 

We make excuses to rationalize our addiction, spinning the narrative to convince us our hectic lifestyles are heroic or even necessary. We make ourselves martyrs, telling everyone how much we would “love” to slow down, while many of us are also the ones pushing the gas pedal on the schedule of our lives. We take ourselves far too seriously and we don’t take the invitation to know Jesus and trade burdens with Him seriously enough. 


We have a “gaze” problem. I have a “gaze” problem. 


Believe it or not, the most arresting side effect of our busyness isn’t found in where we place our time, but in who we give our eyes. We lament how “busy” we are, but consider:


  • The majority of the population spends hours streaming entertainment, watching everyone else’s stories…but there is “never enough time” to engage our neighbors and get to know their stories. 


  • We taxi all over town and spend fortunes to place our kids in endless activities so they will be “well-rounded,” but forfeit the dinner table, family devotions, and the heart-to-heart conversation that will mark them most.


  • We live with phones tethered to our hands, allowing notifications for work or play to interrupt our lives every hour of the day, but “just don’t have time” to be still before God or to delight in His Word. 


And it’s killing us. 


We make excuses to justify why we have no choice in the lives we are leading and to tell ourselves “it’s not that bad” and that soon, we will get through “this busy season” and “everything is going to be different then.” These are the oldest mantras of every addict who has ever lived. 


So, here it is. My name is Chuck and I have been an addict to “busy” for as long as I can remember. I’m joyously taking my first steps into recovery, holding onto one simple truth:


Jesus plus nothing is still enough. 


For years, I’ve acted like my busyness problem is far more complex than it really is. Yes, I have a lot of commitments (many of which I have personally made). Yes, as I change the pace of what I give my time and my gaze to, some will be disappointed. This is inevitable. But no, it isn’t complicated. Not really.


I recently traveled to the land-locked country on Lesotho in southern Africa. Across the beautiful landscape of mountains that stretched on for miles, I was shocked to look in front of me and see the condition of their crops. Their fields of corn looked miniature and emaciated. When I asked, I was told this is because the people refuse to rest the fields. Faced with years of poverty, the farmers have adopted a scarcity mindset that races to outrun their past and produce fruitful fields through breakneck effort. But they’ve failed to understand the first rule of the harvest: for a faithful crop, you have to rest the land. In the time of “not” planting, the soil matures and is replenished with a richness of nutrients that cannot be produced any other way. If we’re overworking our fields, the biblical solution is not complex. It’s VERY simple. “Repent.” It means to change the way you think and “turn around.” You were walking in one direction and choose to stop and simply turn around. 


Not “make it right.” 

Not “figure everything out.” 

Not “you’ve made your bed, so now you need to lie in it.” 


Just turn around and the Father will bridge the distance of every wayward second, every time. 


In the midst of some battles with illness and months of serious introspection about the pace and (often well-meaning) burdens I’ve allowed on my own back, Jesus recently leaned in to ask several piercing heart questions. 


He asked, “Do you care more about your physical health getting back in order, or the health of your soul?” I answered immediately, “The health of my soul.” 


He asked, “Do you care more about getting a book deal and a platform, or the hearts of your wife and kids?” I answered, “The heart of my wife and kids.” 


He asked, “Do you care more about a large ministry or being a faithful shepherd where I placed you?” I answered, “I just want to be faithful where you’ve placed me.” 


He answered, “Then go after the stuff that matters like you’ve gone after pursuing your physical health, being an author, and extending your voice.” 


Dang.


Here’s what it means for me:


  • I will make ample space in my morning hours for prayer walks, study, and exercise, as these bring me life. 


  • I will set and protect nights to eat dinner with my family and to just BE together. 


  • I will focus a lot more on being “present” in the present, delighting more in the people I am with than where I think we need to be going next. 


  • And I will say NO to the things that threaten to crowd these out. 


And I will do it all with beautiful imperfection and messy vulnerability. I will stumble. I will lose focus. I will reassess and re-address. But I am done with rationalizing the “grind.” His Spirit gives life. My flesh counts for nothing. As His kid, He’s filled me with fruit. But I will only ever access it as I rest my fields and abide as a beloved branch in HIS vine. 


I’m done with “Busy.” 


What about you?


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Amen and amen!! Such a good word, not only for me personally but also one that needs to be said to to the body of Christ all over...the church needs to hear this. Its not only the truth, it authentic, raw, honest and heartfelt. The addiction of 'busyness' is ugly!! I love this absolute truth too that you said.... "He’s already given us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as the fruits of belonging to Him. They are ours. But fruit only ever appears on the vine as we ABIDE: “Unless you are abiding in me, you are not bearing true fruit.” (John 15:5).

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