How To Avoid A Life Of Joyless Urgency!


Pulitzer prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson coined a phrase to describe our current culture that absolutely floored me.   In The Givenness of Things, a collection of her essays, Robinson touched on the way in which our culture has become less and less about "equipping and refining thought," and more about "creating and mastering technologies."

Then she said this:  [T]he spirit of the times is one of joyless urgency..."  

That phrase--joyless urgency--struck me pretty hard.  I have spent a great deal of time in airports of late, and have had an opportunity to do one of my favorite things at the airport:  people watch.  And I have to tell you, I have seen more than my fair share of joyless urgency. 

What I've noticed is that every single airport I've been to over the past year (some twenty-plus different ones, by my count) has a few things in common with almost every other airport.  First, most of the people I saw were either anxious or hurried, or both.  Second, if they weren't rushing to the next thing, the overwhelming majority of people were glued to the screen of their phone, tablet or computer.  

I think we have the illusion of doing something or going somewhere when in reality, we all seem to be running in circles, tethered to our technology, distracted, harried and anxious.  

I thought of that verse in Matthew 9:36 where Jesus looked out at the crowds and saw their distraction and anxiety.  It reads: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." 

I couldn't help but imagine Jesus standing in the airport with me looking at everyone, and slowly, sadly shaking his head.  What Jesus came to give each and every one of us was not a harried, anxious, life filled with joyless urgency.  He came to give us abundant, overflowing joy-filled life.  

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul exhorts them to experience joy in a life spent pursuing Jesus:  

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved... Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; ... (Phil 4)

May you be filled with a sense of joyous expectation today as you pray for grace and peace in the busy-ness of your day.  May you find the space to push back against the "tyranny of the urgent" and find small Sabbath moments to connect with God, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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