What if life is too big?
I don't need to list the ways your life is busy. The low hum of busyness is maddening, and it's only compounded by the screens in our life. And it feels like a grave we're sinking into with waves of dirt coming at us with each expectation we lay upon ourselves.
How did we get here?
It all started out so simple. I'm a sinner, I need Jesus, follow him. Love God, love neighbor. Now's there are books I have to read, people I have to reach, conversations I have to follow up on, tweets I need to look at, issues I need to be informed of, opinions I must form, things I have to create, positions I must aspire to, reputations I must protect, a status I must achieve, goals to be reached. It's exhausting, like a treadmill going slightly faster than what you're able to run. Pretty soon, it will sweep you behind it, which is all too preferable to staying on.
And life is already complicated. Everybody's trying to find the secret sauce, with just as many people claiming to have it, turning a whole generation of people reaching upward and looking forward to the future version of themselves.
Where do we go from here?
Live Life Small
I'm reminded of the words of James in chapter four,
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." - James 4:13-17
The last line is especially interesting to that text. It almost seems out of place. The passage as a whole is condemning this boastful attitude about the future, but it seems to end with this proverb on situational ethics (or at least, that's how I've heard it used). How does it connect with the whole passage?
Living Life All At Once
I think sometimes, we lose the trees for the forest. We get so caught up in our whole life all at once - where we're going, who we'll be, what we're going to do - that we ignore where and who we're choosing to be today. Our devotion to our plans makes us blind to "the right thing to do," which is a completely different way to live.
Living life by right and wrong means submitting our days and moments to Lord, recognizing His supreme worth in every moment of our lives, and that's almost impossible to schedule. It certainly doesn't look like coping until we get to where we're going in life.
We're like the builders of Babel who band together to make a name for themselves, and there are myriads of voices saying the same thing, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." Let's build these little empires, these people who we'll be.
The voices continue, "You must read this, listen to this person, be active in this, have these things."
And then their voices become our own. "Go away, can't you see I'm building here?"
Much Ado About Nothing
We become like Martha, anxious and troubled about many things, hurrying around Jesus, failing to see that He is the better portion, the one thing that was necessary. (Luke 10:38-42).
And I think we should be struck by the "unproductive" life of Jesus, who's more interested in people than he is tower-building, and frequently withdrew to the wilderness in prayer (Luke 5:16).
Why? Because doing the right thing is more important than making plans and achieving goals. Why? Because God honors and rewards what is right. Just ask Haggai (1:7-11).
James isn't just policing our conversations with theological precision, he's showing us a better way. He's reminding us about the trees, about living life by right and wrong, and not by plans of grandeur.
Seek First the Kingdom (and its King)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. - Matthew 6:33-34
Isn't this the simplicity we need? Don't we actually thrive under this direction? Don't we desperately need Jesus to walk with us? Someone who reminds us to humble our days and our plans about building towers? Someone who can make life small again?
We have to start over, back to when we had child-like faith and the commandment was simple: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; love your neighbor as yourself. That's what faithfulness is. Living life small with the Lord, day to day, moment to moment. Recognizing His supreme worth in all things - over our time, goals, reputation, etc. For the Lord rewards such faithfulness. Trust Him.