No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “too many balls in the air”, an expression used to refer to the busyness in one’s life, when there are too many things competing for attention at the same time, often resulting in few, if any, being completed successfully.
That’s not the same as multi-tasking, which is simply trying to perform more than one activity at the same time, such as brushing your teeth and shaving while talking on the phone.
I’ve experienced busyness many times in my life and I’m betting you have too. I don’t have to think too far back to come up with an example, but that’s how I roll; I prefer the challenge of having things to do over the alternative. Why? Because there’s always work to be done.
Surely there were times when Jesus must have felt he had too many balls in the air. Consider the scripture from Mark, chapter 4. when Jesus spends his entire day teaching parables to people gathered around him by the sea. The assembled crowd was so big that he had to get into a boat so everyone could hear. He used parables in his teaching, which many did not understand. Even the twelve who were with Jesus questioned him about their meaning. Exhausted from the long day of teaching, Jesus says to them: “How do you not understand these parables?” and then proceeds to explain the meaning of each.
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Then, knowing he needed to rest, I imagine Jesus laid down and tried to go back to sleep, all the while thinking of how much was yet to be done.
Alli Worthington, author of the book Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, says even Jesus knew that he needed to stop and rest. She writes that our lives have gotten so cluttered up with things we think we ‘should’ do that we can’t figure out what we were meant to do. She suggests we have to “start breaking busy before the busy breaks us”.
I look forward to preaching Sunday, June 30, 2019, on the State of the Church, where I’ll talk about the busyness of the church and the importance of pausing those things we do for ourselves and get busy doing things for others.
Chair of Church Council