Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
January 14, 2001
Ever notice how busy everybody is? Most of us have arranged our lives so that we are
constantly on the run. Deadlines and appointments have a stranglehold on us. We are slaves to
clocks and calendars. Drive 70 mph on the interstate and everyone else makes you feel like you
are standing still.
Whatís behind all this busyness? Why are we so driven to keep moving? Why canít we slow down for a few moments and chew the fat with someone? We build front porches on our houses but nobody has time to sit on them and talk.
I realize that these questions indite me as much as anyone I know. My wife says, "I need to talk to you when you have a few minutes." I reply, "OK, honey, but right now I am late for an appointment. Perhaps tonight."
That night after supper she says, "Do you have a minute?"
"Not right now, sweetheart; I have to check my e-mail messages," I respond. So I get on the Internet and waste time deleting a flock of stupid messages from strangers who want to sell me things I donít need. Then I have to decide if I want to read the 19 messages forwarded to me by friends who say, "Be sure to read this."
By the time thatís finished we are both too tired to talk, so we drop off to sleep, muttering, "Weíll have that talk tomorrow." And so often tomorrow is simply another day quite like today - busy, busy, busy.
Around the office where I work everyone jokes about how dangerous it is when I stop one of them and ask, "Got a minute?" Most of the time they have learned that my question is a prelude to another assignment. They know that if they give me a minute, I will give them something else to do.
We laugh about it because it is so true. There are a thousand and one things that need to be done around every church, and most days I can think of 999 of them. And I love to motivate people to get busy doing "the work of the Lord."
But I realize when all the laughing stops that I need to spend more time just asking my colleagues and friends how they are doing instead of giving them something else to do. They surely must wonder why, when they give me a minute, I donít just enjoy listening to them, sharing heart to heart, and finding joy in getting to know them better.
Think about this: how long has it been since you chanced to meet a friend who took the time to ask you, in an unhurried way, "How are things going with you?" More often than not when we meet a friend we offer a smile, keep walking, and hurl the words, "Good to see you." Are we really that busy? Or is it possible that we subconsciously believe that by being in a hurry we elevate our own importance in the minds of others? Are we somehow hoping that people will be impressed by how busy we are, that they will praise us by saying, "I donít see how you manage to do all the things you do!"
Actually it would be far more valuable to us to have someone remark, "Thank you for taking the time to visit with me. I always enjoy spending time with you." To receive such a compliment would hardly compare to having someone speak of how busy we are.
Busy is not necessarily wonderful. We can be busy with things that donít amount to a hill of beans. We can bury ourselves in a pile of paperwork and fail to provide those dear to us with the affirmation and encouragement they truly need from us.
When the end comes, as it will for each of us, what will matter most? That I was always in a hurry doing a hundred and one things, or that I made a difference in someoneís life by taking the time to care?
I would like to develop this idea further but I have a deadline to meet and I must run. See you. Perhaps we can find a few minutes to talk tomorrow. I am so busy, you know.