Ecclesiastes 2:22 asks, "What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?" The answer Ecclesiastes repeatedly offers is that they get a big bag of nothing. Emptiness. Like chasing the wind. It's vain, meaningless. We could add that we get ulcers. Irritable. Short-tempered. Distant relationships. We get scattered, disjointed lives where we do a million things but nothing well. We get our priorities all out of whack. We get high blood pressure and higher risk of heart problems. We get sleep deprived and sanity deprived. We get more susceptible to making bad choices, morally compromised choices, sinful choices.
In his book, The Life You Always Wanted, John Ortberg talks about a time when he turned to a trusted spiritual mentor for advice. He asked, "What do you think I should do to try to grow in my walk with Jesus?" The friend knew the kind of hurried, driven, non-stop life Ortberg was living, so he said, "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." That's pretty good advice for all of us. Instead of all of our strivings, I want to invite you to adopt as much as you can the Discipline of Slowing.
Plan for Sabbath. God made Sabbath for our benefit. Rest and renewal are a blessing from God. Receive Sabbath with joy, but to receive it, many of us have to reserve time and space for it.
Practice Patience. If we are to live unhurried lives more often, we will have to learn and lean into patience with others, with our situation, and with ourselves.
Prioritize People. Productivity can be good, but loving people is at the core of our love to God. Aim to be interruptible. Make space for undivided attention and compassion.
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28).