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Sermon illustrations

Hurry

Acedia: Unholy Unhurry

Another form of unholy unhurry that many of us have heard little about is acedia. Derived from the Greek a (for “not”) and keedos (meaning “to care”), acedia is ultimately a failure of love. It’s a place of apathy toward life and a kind of spiritual boredom; it’s that umpteenth lap somewhere between the enthusiasm of the starting line and the celebration of the finish line.

Whether midday, midlife, halftime or halfway through a big project, we’re tempted to give in, give up or distract ourselves. Acedia tempts us to abandon the life we have for some imagined better option somewhere else—as in “anywhere but here”! Acedia can also be the temptation to live our lives in imagined fantasies of what might be rather than living in the gift of what is. Though it may seem unhurried from a certain perspective, acedia is rooted in a restless, distracted and, yes, hurried heart.

Taken from An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling Copyright (c) 2013 by Alan Fadling. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Avoiding Hurry at All Costs

The smartest and best man I have known [presumably Dallas Willard] jotted down some thoughts about hurry; I think they were posted in his kitchen when he died. “Hurry,” he wrote, “involves excessive haste or a state of urgency. It is associated with words such as hurl, hurdle, hurly-burly (meaning “uproar”), and hurricane.” He defined it as a “state of frantic effort one falls into in response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.”

The simple essence of hurry is too much to do! The good of being delivered from hurry is not simply pleasure but the ability to do calmly and effectively—with strength and joy—that which really matters. “We should take it as our aim,” he wrote, “to live our lives entirely without hurry. We should form a clear intention to live without hurry. One day at a time. Trying today.”

Taken from John Ortberg in John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World, Waterbook Press, 2019.

How Hurry Sick Are You?

In The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness, Tim Chester has come up with twelve diagnostic questions to determine if and how much we’ve become sick with “hurry sickness.”

“Do you regularly work thirty minutes a day longer than your contracted hours?”

“Do you check work e-mails and phone messages at home?”

“Has anyone ever said to you, ‘I didn’t want to trouble you because I know how busy you are’?”

“Do your family or friends complain about not getting time with you?”

“If tomorrow evening were unexpectedly freed up, would you use it to do work or a household chore?”

“Do you often feel tired during the day or do you find your neck and shoulders aching?”

“Do you often exceed the speed limit while driving?”

“Do you make use of any flexible working arrangements offered by your employers?”

“Do you pray with your children regularly?”

“Do you have enough time to pray?”

“Do you have a hobby in which you are actively involved?”

“Do you eat together as a family or household at least once a day?”

Tim Chester, The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness, Inter-Varsity Press.

Defining Hurry

In his introduction to John Mark Comer’s book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, pastor John Ortberg shares some thoughts from his mentor Dallas Willard on the subject of hurry:

The smartest and best man I have known jotted down some thoughts about hurry; I think they were posted in his kitchen when he died. “Hurry,” he wrote, “involves excessive haste or a state of urgency. It is associated with words such as hurl, hurdle, hurly-burly (meaning “uproar”), and hurricane.”

He defined it as a “state of frantic effort one falls into in response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.” The simple essence of hurry is too much to do! The good of being delivered from hurry is not simply pleasure but the ability to do calmly and effectively—with strength and joy—that which really matters. “We should take it as our aim,” he wrote, “to live our lives entirely without hurry. We should form a clear intention to live without hurry. One day at a time. Trying today.”

…To choose to live an unhurried life in our day is somewhat like taking a vow of poverty in earlier centuries; it is scary. It is an act of faith. But there are deeper riches on the other side. To be in the presence of a person where hurry has (like Elvis) “left the building” is to be inspired about the possibility of another kind of Life.

Taken from John Ortberg in John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, The Crown Publishing Group, 2019, p. xiii.

Flowing Blindly Towards a Land of Distraction

Today, a number of historical circumstances are blindly flowing together and accidentally conspiring to produce a climate within which it is difficult not just to think about God or to pray, but simply to have any interior depth whatsoever…. We, for every kind of reason, good and bad, are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion.

It is not that we have anything against God, depth, and spirit, we would like these, it is just that we are habitually too preoccupied to have any of these show up on our radar screens. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than nonspiritual, and more interested in the movie theater, the sports stadium, and the shopping mall and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives.

Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality (New York: Random House, 2014), 31–33.

The Great Temptation

In his excellent book, An Unhurried Life, Alan Fadling describes one of our greatest temptations in the modern age: hurry:

Hurry is a great temptation. Hurry looks like impulsive, knee-jerk reactions: “I’ll act now because I may never have another chance!” The temptation to hurry is fueled by the lie that the only good to be had must be grabbed now or never.

Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness right after his baptism at the Jordan illustrates the hurried nature of temptation and a holy response to it. Jesus is a master of the unhurried response to tempting suggestions.

Taken from An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling Copyright (c) 2013 by Alan Fadling. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

The Hurry Sickness Disease

Psychologists and mental health professionals are now talking about an epidemic of the modern world: “hurry sickness.” As in, they label it a disease.

Here’s one definition:

A behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness.

Here’s another:

A malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.[i]

Meyer Friedman—the cardiologist who rose to fame for theorizing that type A people who are chronically angry and in a hurry are more prone to heart attacks—defined it thus:

A continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accom­plish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time.[ii]

Friedman was the one who originally coined the phrase hurry sickness after noticing that most of his at-risk cardiovascular patients displayed a harrying “sense of time urgency.”[iii]

And—deep breath—he said that in the ’50s.

Cough, cough.

Awkward silence.

Ahem . . .

How do you know if you have this up-and-coming disease?

It’s fairly straightforward. Rosemary Sword and Philip Zim­bardo, authors of The Time Cure, offer these symptoms of hurry sickness:

  • Moving from one check-out line to another because it looks shorter/faster.
  • Counting the cars in front of you and either getting in the lane that has the least or is going the fastest.
  • Multi-tasking to the point of forgetting one of the tasks.[iv]

Anybody?

You feeling this?

Not to play armchair psychologist, but I’m pretty sure we all have hurry sickness.

And hurry is a form of violence on the soul.

Adapted from The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. Copyright © 2019 by John Mark Comer. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

[i] Rosemary K. M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo, “Hurry Sick­ness: Is Our Quest to Do All and Be All Costing Us Our Health?,” Psychology Today, February 9, 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-time-cure/201302/hurry-sickness.

[ii] Meyer Friedman and Ray H. Rosenman, Type A Behavior and Your Heart (New York: Knopf, 1974), 33.

[iii] Friedman and Rosenman, Type A, 42.

[iv] Sword and Zimbardo, “Hurry Sickness.”

Overextending Ourselves & The Tyranny of the Urgent

In his highly insighful work, Inside Job, Stephen W. Smith shares the importance of finding balance, even as life seems to pull us in different directions:

Overextending yourself is stretching your physical, emotional, financial, vocational and relational boundaries to the point of depletion. Have you ever heard the expression someone says when the money is running tight? It goes like this: “There’s too much month left at the end of the money.”

Translated this means, “I’ve run out of money to pay all my bills and it’s only the middle of the month.” That’s what happens when we overextend ourselves; there’s more asked of us than we can give. This overextending causes stress to accumulate: the stress at home, in the workplace, during travel—it all piles up like a huge stack of dirty laundry.

Stress, as we all know, is deadly to our health.

Every doctor and therapist will tell you that unresolved stress will “do you in.” Stress works itself out through our blood pressure and attacks our vital organs. Stress releases a toxin that when built up leaves its marks inside of us. We live with a tyranny of the urgent that drives us, manipulates us and sucks passion right out of our marrow and veins. Everything must be done now. Everything has to be quick.

Taken from Inside Job by Stephen W. Smith (c) 2009 by Stephen W. Smith. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Praising Slowness

In our culture slow is a pejorative. When somebody has a low IQ, we dub him or her slow. When the service at a restaurant is lousy, we call it slow. When a movie is boring, again, we complain that it’s slow. Case in point, Merriam-Webster: “mentally dull: stupid: naturally inert or sluggish: lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness.”[i]

The message is clear: slow is bad; fast is good.

But in the upside-down kingdom, our value system is turned on its head: hurry is of the devil; slow is of Jesus, because Jesus is what love looks like in flesh and blood.

Adapted from The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. Copyright © 2019 by John Mark Comer. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

[i] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, s.v. “slow.”

Why We Resist a Less Hurried Life

A primary resistance to a less hurried way of life—a resistance I find in myself and in others—is the belief that “I won’t be as productive” or that “I will fail to seize the opportunities God sets before me.” I have come to believe, though, that this sort of obsession with work results, ironically, in a reduction of true fruitfulness. We sometimes hear it said, “Less is more.” Sometimes, though, more is also less.

Taken from An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling Copyright (c) 2013 by Alan Fadling. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

 

 

See Also Illustrations on BusynessControlSilenceSolitudeTime

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