Crazy Busy

  • Jeff Crotts
people walking
title taken from Keven DeYoung’s short book:

For my turn blogging, I thought of a sermon I preached from Ecclesiastes a few years back.  Times are weird, and like me, I am sure you could use some of “Solomon’s wisdom” right now. 

My preaching focus (in 2017?) was on life’s rat race work culture.  The exact opposite of what it looks and feels like today.  We want to “Go” back outside and back to grinding workweeks.  Right?  Well, as they say, “Be careful what you pray for.” 

Balanced biblical wisdom answers this urge with a healthy, “Yes and no.”  As you wait to return to your former job life, heed the Lord’s caution from Ecclesiastes.  Performance temptations, presently lying dormant, are right around the corner waiting to pounce. 

Perhaps this sermon intro from the recent past will serve to jolt your thinking; where you do not want it to go, as our economy begins to roll back open:   

In his book The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness, Tim Chester gives twelve diagnostic questions to determine how ill we’ve become with “hurry sickness.”

  1. “Do you regularly work thirty minutes a day longer than your contracted hours?” What does that have to do with anything?  I have a lot to do, so I have to work a lot of hours.
  2. “Do you check your work emails and phone messages at home?” Are you serious? Have you been around much this millennium?
  3. “Has anyone ever said to you, ‘I didn’t want to trouble you because I know how busy you are’?” Of course!  And I’m glad they have the decency to respect my time!
  4. “Do your family or friends complain about not getting time with you?” Well, I wouldn’t call it complaining per se.  They’re still learning that quality time is more important than quantity time.
  5. “If tomorrow evening were unexpectedly freed up, would you use it to do work or a household chore?” Uh, yeah.  Were you going to do it for me?
  6. “Do you often feel tired during the day or do you find your neck and shoulders aching?” Mountain Dew, ibuprofen, not a problem.
  7. “Do you often exceed the speed limit while driving?” Depends on whether I’m trying to eat French fries at the same time.
  8. “Do you make use of any flexible working arrangements offered by your employers?”   I work at home.  I work in the car.  I work on vacation.  I can work pretty much anywhere.
  9. “Do you pray with your children regularly?” I never turn them down when they ask.
  10. “Do you have enough time to pray?” I’m more a “pray continually” kind of person.  I don’t need to set aside specific times to pray because I’m always in communion with God.
  11. “Do you have a hobby in which you are actively involved?” Does Pinterest count?
  12. “Do you eat together as a family or household at least once a day?” More or less.  When one person is eating, someone else is usually in the house at the same time.

If you’re like me, laughing at some or all of these questions is done with mixed emotions since each chuckle is loaded with a stab of guilt. 

When I came to Anchorage, though I had never been here before, I realized that I had lived somewhere similar.  The snow and ice reminded me of Colorado but the vibe and people reminded me of Los Angeles.  As a matter of fact, some snarky people label where we live as Los Anchorage.  The reason for this is that there are a lot of people who come from somewhere else.  So this is a miniature melting pot.  And it’s expensive here so to make things affordable most households are made up of two income working parents.  Traffic isn’t like LA in terms of volume but with ice and snow it’s equally dangerous.  And then we have our toys.  People “go, go, go” and then “STOP” and “RELAX” in a cabin or “outside.”  Anchorage is a melting pot of people who work really hard and play really hard. 

This isn’t right or wrong but this is our culture and this culture breeds the temptation named “performance.”  Performance mindedness can lead to all kinds of idolatry.  And to all sorts of pride.  And to all sorts of emotional burnout and loss.  This easily invades our Gospel-mindedness and into our lives making us slaves to self instead of slaves of Christ.  Instead of being true worshippers we are addicted to ourselves and to a drug called “people-pleasing” in a world of affirmation junkies.  This is joyless, living for the praise of men. 

Last week we opened up with the book’s quest to know the meaning of life.  The Preacher, Solomon begins his sermon declaring life under the sun as “Vanity” (1:2).  Vanity, defined as meaningless in the sense of how everything is simply floating through a cycle.  Life is something that’s happened before.  Things, achievements, and experiences are transient, here and gone like a vapor.  Our lives are like “soap bubbles” beautiful, floating, and then popping.

Ecclesiastes 2 builds on Solomon’s quest for meaning where he describes his experiment of seeking satisfaction through every form of conceivable pleasure found under the sun

Solomon’s series of failed experiments can all fall under the single theme of performance or the word repeated throughout, “toil” (vv.  10, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24).

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil (2:10).

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me (2:18).

So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? (2:20-22).

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God (2:24).