No. 281. Thanksgiving that slows me down!

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No. 281. Thanksgiving that slows me down!

Slow me down? I hear you say, I need something to speed me up, especially after covid, and isolation and staying home etc. Well it is probably the case that, while for many people life ‘slowed down’ during covid lockdowns, for many others it became relentlessly busy. I would also like to postulate that even for those of us who did feel that life slowed down somewhat, by playing on the increased use of our phones, ipads, zoom, twitter, facebook and Netflix etc, the enemy made sure that our minds and emotions stayed busy, full and preoccupied, so that we are hurrying, physically or mentally, from one thing to the next.

I am writing this because I heard recently of a book by John Mark Comer called ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2019. Its title is a quote from the late Dallas Willard in answer to the question, “What do I need to do to become the person I want to be?” The answer was just that – “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” And when asked what else? The reply was “There is nothing else, hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day”. Wow.

Other big names have also identified hurry as a problem. The Psychologist Carl Jung is quoted as saying ‘Hurry is not of the devil, it is the devil.’ Corrie Ten Boom said something similar ‘If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.’ And we, in this digital age, have to square up to the fact that even if we control our diaries, our business so often comes through the alert on the phone that we have to look at, the Netflix binge, the addiction to seeing what’s happening in other lives through face-book, and perhaps the overarching ethos that texts, emails, twitter etc, have to be responded to in the moment, regardless of what we are doing, or who we are with, including our one-on-one time with the Lord.

Now we have written before about how thanksgiving helps us to relish and savour each moment; about how thanksgiving slows us down on our walks (or even on a drive) to enjoy the wonders of creation, the changing seasons, the magnificence of the sky, day or night. Thanksgiving can help to keep us ‘in the moment’ as we become grateful and aware of the preciousness of time spent with individual people in different scenarios, and in different places. But now I can see that it is also a weapon that can help us to fight the ‘hurry sickness’ of the world around us.

I think this because the ‘hurry sickness’ that we see all around us, and in our own lives, starts in our minds. I wonder how many times you hear yourself say “I have to do this”. “I must go here”, “I ought to respond immediately to that”, “I should see this”. “I need to …..straight away.” So often it feels like there is an urgency to absolutely everything we touch these days, and sometimes there is of course, but really everything?? We used to talk about how the urgent can easily crowd out the important. We used to suggest to people that answer phones were the way to ensure that they had a Sabbath rest day. Since mobile phones however, it’s now more a case of turning the phone off, or removing it to another space, as the urgency of responding to an alert distracts us from the important thing that we are doing.

I believe, and I am working hard at this myself, that to respond to people and to situations that command our attention ‘with thanksgiving’ is a powerful antidote to being ‘driven’. This is because when we thank the Lord for whatever it is that is drawing our attention, we immediately engage with Him, and so the Holy Spirit can help us to discern what it is good and right to do, or not to do, in response. Thanksgiving – for the person, the event, the decision, the request, the thing that threatens to fill and preoccupy our mind – is like pressing the pause button. It gives us time to think before we respond, and time to listen to the Lord for His wisdom and leading.

As we read through the gospels, we see Jesus, walking through life with grace and dignity, knowing when to withdraw and go talk to His Father, Luke 5:15,16, when to respond and allow an interruption, Luke 8:42-48, when to ignore and avoid a situation, Luke 4:28-30, and when to just spend time with His friends. Luke 9:28-36.

So let’s do it. Let us use this wonderful gift of thanksgiving as part of our weaponry in the fight to eliminate hurry from our lives. Let us use thanksgiving to keep our connection with Father, Son and Holy Spirit strong and clear, in order that we might respond to Jesus’ invitation “Walk with me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn (from Me) the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matthew 11:28 The Message.  


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