Unhurried and Unbusied - A Musing on Being Present 8//9/2023
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.” Matthew 4:1-11 NRSV
I want to take a few minutes for us to look at the scripture above in a little bit of a different way. This text, which is the temptation of Jesus, is often talked about as Jesus being tempted to sin. And there is some very real truth to that, but I also want to look at it another way. In each of the three temptations Jesus was offered, he eventually received that temptation. However, it did not happen immediately but only after a period of waiting. Jesus had to be patient and wait. In fact, Jesus and his slow unhurried patient nature sometimes drove the disciples crazy.
Jesus didn’t even rush to the bedside of his critically ill friend Lazarus.
However, by waiting Jesus received all those things he had been tempted with and he received them in a manner far greater than perhaps the human side of Jesus could have imagined.
Jesus indeed received bread and he broke it and fed thousands. God indeed raised Jesus from the dead, conquering death and raising him to life everlasting. And Jesus was eventually known to be Lord of all, King of kings, the first and the last.
However, to receive each of these required Jesus being willing to wait and not be in a hurry. It required patience. It required walking humbly with God.
I find it interesting that Micah 6:8 does not say we need to run with God or try to keep up with God but that we should walk with God. God knows that we could never keep up with him. So God slows down for us. God asks us to walk with him and encourages us to take sabbath, to slow down, and even be still.
However, you and I struggle with not being in a hurry. We wear our hurried lives and our business on our chest like a badge of honor.
I was recently reminded that no matter who we are or even at what age we are - when asked the question, “how are you?” we we typically respond with, “oh we're OK just busy!”
This reminded me of a quote by Corey ten Boom that I recently read in the book by John Mark Comer. He reminds his reader that Corrie ten Boom once said that, “if the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.”
Rev. Comer in talking about this quote goes on to say, “There’s truth in that. Both sin and busyness have the exact same effect—they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even to your own soul.”
My daughter Brittany in her first teaching assignment has a principal whose theme for the school year is BE PRESENT.
He wants students and teachers to engage in the moment. He is making all of them put their cell phones away while class is going on. (This stance has not made him exactly popular among the student body, some of the staff, and some parents as well, but I do believe he is on to something very important and positive.)
While certainly not his intent, he is teaching and encouraging his school community to engage in a powerful spiritual and mental health practice, in addition to his primary goal of hoping they pay better attention to Math and Language Arts.
In fact, interestingly enough, all religions and even folks who are not religious but seek to help folks live happier and healthier and more emotionally balanced lives, all agree that slowing down and being present in the moment is essential to a full meaningful life.
All these folks, both religious and secular, encourage folks to engage in practices to help folks be present in the moment. Prayer, meditation, journaling, deep breathing, and mindfulness exercises are just a few examples of practices that encourage us to step away from our business and our hurried lives and be present and pay attention to that which is most important in the moment.
My encouragement to all of us and especially to myself then is to slow down. To focus on that which is most important. To remember that in the end we will be judged by two things, whether or not we have loved God and whether or not we have loved other people. And friends, if I know anything you cannot love well if you are busy and in a hurry.
So may we be present with our God and with one another so that our love for both will shine through in every moment.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Have a great week.