As I was jogging this morning, I was startled by the unexpected sound of a car horn. It startled me because it was relatively early. It wasn’t oh-dark-stupid early, but early enough that there were only a few cars on the main road that leads to the interstate just a couple blocks from my house. The workday hadn’t begun for most people, and I expected to feel, for the most part, peace, as I puttered along and watched the world slowly start the weekend.
All of a sudden a horn blared, just as I was crossing the street to the left sidewalk. I had seen a car about 25 feet behind me, and it was the only car at the time. I was very startled, and that peace that I had started to feel about a mile into my jog instantly dissipated into worry and stress.
Why did that happen I asked myself? The car wasn’t very close to me, and it only takes me about 2 seconds to cross the road out of traffic. Now just on the sidewalk, I turned my head and saw an angry driver who then accelerated down the road, racing past 2 sets of yellow lights and onto the interstate ramp and out of sight. What caused that driver to be so angry and honk at me, I asked myself?
One word came to mind.
A great conversation between two of this past centuries “Giants of the Faith” took place in the early 1990’s. Dallas Willard was mentoring a man name John Ortberg at the time. You may recognize both names. Willard, one of the leading authors and speakers on the topic of spiritual formation in the Christian life, was asked a penetrating question by Ortberg, who was Pastoring Willow Creek Community Church at the time, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America in the 1990’s. While Willow Creek had growing success, Ortberg had come to feel his personal spiritual life to be chaotic, dry, and ultimately unhealthy.
“What do I need to do to become spiritually healthy?” Ortberg asked his mentor Willard?
It is said that Willard paused for a few moments, and then said something Ortberg was not expecting.
"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life," he said at last.
Ortberg said he wrote this down but then asked what else he can do. Surely there is more. After all, solitude, bible memorization, prayer, fasting, bible reading, evangelism, serving others are surely things that help disciples have healthy spiritual lives.
There was another long pause. "There is nothing else," Willard said. "Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Hurry……Hurry? Surely there has to be a better answer. We think about all the things that are broken in us as human beings, greed, anger, lust, malice, arrogance…. The list can go on and on, and the best way to combat these things is to be less hurried?
What in the world was Willard thinking?
I think he was thinking about a man that was walking the shores of the Sea of Galilee, nearly 2,000 year ago (1,995 to be exact for you numbers people out there).
This man walked differently than we do here in the 21st century, as well as the speed of the world that Ortberg lived in, in the early 1990’s.
The way the man walked, was well, unhurried, to be quite frank. He was present with God and present with people. I would bet those closest to him would use words like, focused, attentive, present, observant, perceptive, engaged to describe him.
Jesus of Nazareth lived a full, purposeful, yes even busy life. But He was not hurried, at least it does not seem like that when you read the gospels.
An unhurried, present life with God and others shaped His ministry and His life.
Shouldn’t it shape ours?
I am not one to preach on the topic of hurry. I grew up in Massachusetts, on the north shore of Boston, where hurry is a part of the culture. They have a special name for drivers out east from Massachusetts, one that is very fitting, and I probably shouldn’t repeat on a blog. I know hurry well, it has been one of my companions most of my life. Its symptoms have run rampant in my life. The ping of a notification taking me away from the people in front of me. Inability to focus on Christ in prayer because I'm thinking of the 5 things I have to get done today. The lack of attention to God’s word because of 10 other thoughts going on in my mind….
But I have chosen to take Dallas Willards words seriously, because I am convinced that the quality of life of the master I follow, Jesus of Nazareth, had no such companion.
I want to live a life like Him, and that means ruthlessly eliminating hurry from mine. As I have been on this journey of eliminating hurry for about a year now, I have had my successes and my failures. I don’t get it right every day, just ask my wife or my kids. But I tell you what, I feel closer to God. I feel His presence more throughout the day. In fact I have started to feel that longing again for the fullness of His presence, because even the greatest joys and treasures on Earth simply don’t enough, compared to the thought of being with Him.
I never felt that longing when hurry was my companion, but I am starting to now. I am a math guy, and that is what we call a correlation.
I look forward to each new day of this journey of following Jesus. And I hope that you also choose to add the lifelong pursuit of ruthlessly eliminating hurry from you life. I think you will find abundant life and true joy on that path that our Lord and Savior Jesus walks.