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Summary: How do we escape the "busyness" trap?

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How many of you would say that you are busy? We almost feel obligated to stay busy, don’t we? If you meet someone at the grocery store or run into them at McDonald’s, and you ask them how they’re doing, almost invariably they’ll tell you how busy they are and start rattling off a list of activities -- and their children’s activities.

· Monday is pee-wee football, Tuesday is ballet, Wednesday is piano, Thursday is tae-kwon-do, Friday is swimming lessons, Saturday and Sunday are the soccer travelling team . . .

Americans are busier than ever. Let me give you an example. Dinner time. The "Leave it to Beaver" picture of the family sitting around a dinner table at six o’clock eating a home cooked meal has virtually disappeared.

· These days, when Mom calls, "dinner time!" the family doesn’t head for the dining room table, they head for the minivan. The percent of meals eaten away from home has increased from 16 to 29 percent since 1978.

· Almost no one takes a traditional "lunch hour" any more.

· Not only that, but we are increasingly eating meals while we are doing other things -- working, driving, watching television. We don’t eat, we graze.

How many consider yourselves to be too busy? How do you know if you’re too busy?

· No matter what you’re doing, you have a vague sense you ought to be doing something else.

· No matter how hard you work, you always feel like you’re behind.

· You feel like your spinning your wheels -- you get to the end of the week, and in spite of all your activity, you find yourself asking, "what have I really accomplished?"

Why do we feel so frazzled?

1. Erosion of boundaries (physical and temporal). Work is recreation is home.

The telecommunications revolution has made it possible for our work to "reach out and touch us" anytime, anywhere.

· Beepers / Cell phones - worn everywhere: cars, restaurants, ball games, grocery stores.

· Home computers - can’t help children with homework, because we’re doing our homework

· People now work from home, so there is no physical boundary between work and home

At the same time, we conduct personal business at work. Lunch hours are spent running errands. In the afternoon, we’re logging on to the web to order Christmas presents, book plane tickets.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it does add to the feeling of busyness.

2. Explosion of choices. We now have more opportunities available to us than every before.

· When I was a boy, we had one sport at a time. Your choices were take it or leave it.

· More channels to watch

· More stuff to buy and sell -- ebay has made the whole world one giant Turkish bazaar.

· More activities to participate in, both in person and on-line. Internet gaming. Chat rooms.

· Office football pool vs. nationwide fantasy football leagues.

Is this a bad thing? Again, not necessarily. But the more opportunities and choices we have, the more we feel we’re losing out if we don’t get as much as we can. This is the "All you can eat" restaurant syndrome.

Backlash against "big box" stores. We don’t really want everything. We just want what’s best.

How can we find peace and rest in a world of nonstop activity?

1. Understand your purpose. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean it’s worth your time and energy. Just because you can have something, it doesn’t mean it’s worth your money. When you have clearly identified your purpose, you can focus on those things which are most important and say "no" without feeling guilty. Activity is not the same thing as accomplishment.

[Mark 1:32-38]

32. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.

33. The whole town gathered at the door,

34. and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

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.

36. Simon and his companions went to look for him,

37. and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"

38. Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."

Jesus willingly left a place where many people were clamoring to see him. He was a preacher, and there were many who wanted to hear his preaching. He was a healer, and there were many ready to be healed. And yet he left. Why? Wasn’t it worthwhile to teach and heal these people? Wasn’t this a good opportunity? Of course it was. But He had another purpose. His purpose was to spread the word throughout the whole region of Galilee, and he held to that purpose in spite of opportunities in other directions.

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