Luke 6:12, "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
After some years in ministry I believe one of the greatest enemies of the modern American Christian is busyness. People are just too busy to stop, to be still, and know that God is. We hear passages like Psalm 46:10, "...Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth," and we think, how nice would that be? To have the time just to stop and know that God is God; to be able to be still for more that a second. Granted, this is just a passing thought as we move from one thing to the next. And if that Psalmist had a cell phone certainly he would know that we can't put it down or we might miss something! But we know we ought to. We know we should slow down and spend time with God. Yet, we are too busy. We can't seem to slow down.
It's like the town of Greve in Italy that I read about. When McDonald's began to open in Italian cities, the Slow Food movement started promoting traditional Italian meals that lasted for hours. Slow Food was designed to oppose fast food and its values of homogeneity, impersonality, and haste. Based on the success of the Slow Food movement, some cities in Italy, including the city of Greve, started the Slow City movement. A slow city is committed to preserving its architectural heritage, typical dishes, and inherited customs. Greve's mayor, Paulo Saturnini, founded the International Network of Slow Cities.
But as The New York Times reported there's been a backlash to the slow city movement in Greve—the city has become so busy that many people don't have time to slow down. "'Everyone's running,' complained Mr. Saturnini's assistant, taking time to show a visitor around, since the mayor's calendar was full. In other words, becoming a slow city has led to an influx of tourists who now crowd the cafes, and the city has no time to slow down!" Hence the title of The New York Times article—"Sometimes Slowing Down Can Really Get Hectic."
"[The city has] developed," one of the town's business leaders added. "But it has lost that aspect of genuineness." [John Tagliabue, "Sometimes Slowing Down Can Really Get Hectic," The New York Times (6-7-02)]
Such is the frenetic pace of life in our age: even an intentionally "Slow City" can't figure out how to slow down in order to enjoy Sabbath and rest.
Jesus knew busyness. He was hunted by the crowds. His popularity had a strangle hold around his neck. Every time he turned around there was another need, another place to go, more people who wanted to see him. He once said, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (Luke 9:58). Jesus knew busyness.
But he sets us an example of carving out time with God; an example of solitude and prayer. If you study his life you will find it was when Jesus was at his busiest that he snuck off early in the morning to be with God. One such time was at the beginning of his ministry as recorded in Mark 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." These interesting tidbits are not in the text as just a curiosity. They are there because if God's own Son had to sneak off to ensure he had quiet time with his Father, how much more should we? After all, we can never be too busy for the things that really matter.
Prayer: Father, you know life can get hectic. It certainly was for your Son. We ask you to forgive us when we let busyness to get between us. Remind us to stop, to be still, to know that You are God. We thank you for the rest we find in Jesus and for his example that nothing should get between our time together. You are our rest. Thank you. In Jesus name (and by His example) we pray, amen.