Devotion – July 29 – “The Covid Slow Down”
While growing up, my mother said this countless times, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” It irritated me to no end. When I was mad, I wanted her to be mad with me. When I felt the world had done me wrong, I wanted her to shake her fist at the fate that had befallen me, too. Now in her defense, she didn’t ignore my pain be it real or imagined. She was always empathetic and she gave me time to vent my frustrations. But she never let me stay there, and that’s when the old saying would come up: “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has given us all, more than our fair share of opportunities to lament our situation and shake our fists at the ugly hand of fate that has befallen us all. Yet, could my mother be right? Is there some silver lining in this dark cloud covering us? I think there is: it has slowed us all down.
Let me share with you an extended quote from John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: “John Ortberg called up his mentor the very wise Dallas Willard. This was in the late ‘90s, and at the time John was working at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, one of the most influential churches in the world. John himself is a well-known teacher, pastor, and best-selling author – the kind of guy you figure pretty much has following Jesus down to a science. But behind the scenes he felt like he was getting sucked into the vortex of megachurch insanity.
“So, he calls up Willard and asks, ‘What do I need to do, to become the me God wants me to be?’
“There’s a long silence on the other end of the line. According to John, ‘With Willard there’s always a long silence on the other end of the line.’ Then he spoke, ‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’
John scribbles that line down in his journal. Then he asks, ‘Okay, what else?’
“Another long silence before Willard responds, ‘There is nothing else. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. End of story.’”
How often when we try to get our lives (both our daily and spiritual lives) in better order, do we read a book, or google the concept, in hopes of finding the answer. What we often end up with is one of a hundred, twenty-step programs. We are told if we follow each step, we will be able to find true joy, because we will now live at a pace that allows room for joy in our lives. But Dallas Willard makes the journey really simple: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. End of story.” So, there is it, it’s a single step and it is easy enough to understand. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
At this point, let me share another saying my mom shared: “It’s easier said, than done.” It is not easy to eliminate hurry from our lives. Hurry is bred into us by the society. The message we get a thousand times a day is: do more, be more, get more. And following this demonic (yes, I said demonic) voice, we find ourselves not enjoying the thousand blessings around us, because we don’t have time to see them, hear them, smell them, sit with them, or be in conversation with them, – we’re just too busy.
Have you noticed Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry? He did a lot, touched a lot of people, but he never said, “I’m behind schedule,” or at the end of the day say, “I didn’t get everything I wanted to get done, today.” He was always living in the present and the only way to do that is to not let hurry move us on too quickly.
What does this have to do with the Covid pandemic – just this: We have been forced to slow down. Almost all of us have more personal time than before the pandemic. We have more time to spend with our families, and have alone time to read a good book, start a hobby we’ve always wanted to, and spend time with God in silence and solitude. We have no excuse for not picking up our Bibles and reading a few verses or a chapter and in the quiet of the moment, pray about what God is trying to tell us.
I don’t wish the Covid pandemic on anyone … but maybe there is a silver lining in this cloud. Maybe this has given us all the opportunity to readjust how we are going to live from this time forward, and it is by eliminating some of our past hurry. So, begin today to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Adjust your life accordingly so when this pandemic is over and we return to our previous unhealthy normal, we might be able to live in a better way; a way that opens up space for us to encounter our blessings and experience it as joy.
~ God bless, Dan