In Pixar’s new animation Up, there’s a scene that depicts a couple’s life as they progress from newlyweds to old age to death. And even though they had a happy life, there’s also sadness that never in that long life together were they able to fulfill a dream. There’s a sense of bittersweetness in relating to that regret, the fear that our lives will also end before we’ve had a chance to make something of it. So we have a tendency to fill our days with activity, as if by being busy all the time our lives have meaning and purpose. The new standard answer for ‘How’re you doing?’ seems to have changed from ‘Fine’ to ‘Oh you know, busy.’ Even the fact that I didn’t have time to write this post until Thursday (sorry Bert!) makes me think that maybe we’re missing something when we organise time.
I’ve always wondered how the Psalms can say to “be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Does he not realise it’s near impossible to just stop and indulge in the luxury of quiet meditation? It’s easily a trite phrase, thrown around in Christian circles when we don’t know how to help a friend struggling with the pressures of life. But pacing our lives around God is more than just our conscious effort to spend more time reading the Bible. What does it take then? It’s about knowing God is our refuge and very present help (verse 1). It’s the confidence that when our physical securities are knocked away, when all our activities threaten to overwhelm us, God is there (verse 2-3). The same, unchanging, never undermined (verse 4-5).
The second phrase of verse ten states “I will be exalted among the nations.” This isn’t the cry of some pompous supernatural being with a superiority complex. God doesn’t ask us to remember who he is because he wants to be reminded of his greatness. He IS great, yes. This whole universe, awe-inspiring and complex as it is, was created by God and for him (Colossians 1:15-17). But a Christian writer put it this way: “it is in this process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men … [In the Old Testament] the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men.”
So how does this relate to us with our busy schedules and to-do lists? I like what Alex mentioned last Sunday about having a quiet place, a physical retreat where we are literally still, even if only for a few minutes. Because as we remember who and what God is and does, it anchors us. As a friend said today (I’m paraphrasing here), “When I’m right with God, things seem to make sense and what I do has meaning. But when I’m too hurried for God, it doesn’t matter if things are going well, it just feels like busyness.”