Tuesday, August 2, 2011

learning from finches

It is not wise to keep producing, producing, producing as if we have no limits and need no rest.

It is a pity that both the world-system and the religious systems we have constructed reinforce this practice of incessant output: Retail has turned into a 24/7 enterprise. The book title “Always On” speaks for itself. If you require further explanation, consider its subtitle: “How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us In.”

A prominent religious leader has published a book recently: “Your Best Life Now.” Before and after reading this “can-do” book we do well to contemplate what we cannot do. God’s grace always picks up where we leave off so let us let go of our reluctance to let go. Let us see the value of rest.

Our souls cannot bear the weight of “Do! Do! Do!” God even wishes the land on which we live a sabbath rest. He designed a Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is fitting that slaves are liberated on such an occasion. Let us see in our compulsion to perform-without-letup a form of slavery. If we have eyes to see this, why do we not lay hold of God’s proclaimed liberation as a true and lasting jubilee? Busyness is a disease that kills. If the enemy would destroy us, he need only keep us working.

We in the business of religion like our meetings in which we like to discuss (what we feel are) “pressing issues”. Lately, I have discovered that I ask myself afterwards: “To what end? Why do we concern ourselves with half these matters? Would it not be wiser to leave off our talking overmuch and turn these discussions into occasion for simple prayer, which is a way to rest in God? And why do I become anxious when we are discussing ‘burning issues’ when very little of what we discuss is truly ‘burning’? Learning to love God and love others, learning to make disciples, growing in our attachment to God—these are the things that really matter. How much busy discussion should this require? Why do churches and church leaders too often quibble over words and strategies? Is this not what the world system does in its tautological marketing?”

We become anxious because we must keep producing and we must keep producing otherwise we may become plagued with anxiety. In this way, anxiety and production go hand-in-hand. They are parasitic, co-dependent. We feel people demand some kind of production, that they need some kind of tangible product from us—but people do not need our ministries, they need God--and many of our ministries (let’s face it) try to serve as a substitute for God.

Let us give these games a rest. The only way out of the cycle of work-anxiety is the practice of rest, which requires the exercise of trust. So, let us trust that we can rest and the world will not disappear. Let us remember that we were designed to work, rest and play in proportion even as birds know how to gather, sleep and sing by nature. Let us recollect these instincts that enable us to truly fly free.

No comments: