Defeating the Tyranny of the Urgent

Call it the “Tyranny of the Urgent” or whatever. The fact remains that we’re all too busy. It’s Thursday and I’m salivating over the fact that tomorrow is Friday. T.G.I.F.! Will my batteries get recharged this weekend or will life’s urgencies and emergencies consume my expectations of rest and replace peace with worry?

Worrying is like being in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. I have a long list of stuff that I need to do. I need to go to Charlotte and buy more clay for my Christmas Pottery. I need to go to the funeral of the father of a good friend. What is imperative is to figure out the difference between what I need to do and what I have to do. There’s the rub!

A salesman was driving through rural South Carolina when he noticed a man and his small daughter sitting beside a creek. The salesman stopped his car and went up to the two. “You have a lovely little girl,” he told the farmer. “What’s her name?” “Sybilistina,” the farmer replied. “That’s a pretty long name,” said the salesman. “Look, mister,” the farmer answered, “We’re not city folks. We’ve got time for long names around here!”

I don’t know many people today, whether in the city or in the country, who have much time. A Roper survey sometime ago found that 58% of the U.S. population has too much to do. Seventy percent of the people in the 30-44 age group described themselves as rushed and pressured for time. I hope they didn’t spend too much money on the survey because it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know the obvious!

C’est la vie! is what the French would say, “That’s life!” for any age. Time is always at a premium. It takes time to write notes, pick up children, grocery shop, visit doctors’ offices, cook meals, and on and on it goes. Can we ever lie down and sleep with our daily list of want-to-do’s done? Doubtful!

Maybe it would be more important for our nightly rest if we were at least at peace with God, that we have done what we could on any given day to use our time and talents to the best of our ability for the glory of God. Isaiah 26:3 declares: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” Keeping our minds steadfastly on God is a Spirit-given gift only accomplished by God’s grace. On our part we call it “trust.”

Bob Garfield wrote a piece for the “Washington Post” that speaks of this kind of trust and peace as he wrote of a business trip to Korea. After eating a meal of unnamable entrees he retired to his hotel room utterly sick. As he put it, “I was stricken with crushing chest pains, radiating down my arm and into my back. Obviously, I was having a heart attack. Or a gas attack. How are you supposed to tell? I thought of calling for help but then I considered the problems of communication, and the chaos, and the potential for embarrassment, to say noting of the uncertainties of Korean cardiac care. I imagined the emergency-room physician saying, ‘Yes, Mr. Garfield, you are having a serious myocardial infarction. I will now place seven tiny needles in your eyelid.’”

Garfield continued, “So I decided to take my chances. I managed, through the pain, to write a brief, tender note to my survivors, and lay down at PEACE with myself. I loved my family. They loved me. I had accomplished some interesting things in my career. No felony convictions. Sufficiently insured. Go to sleep now, Bob. Maybe you will wake up. To the best of my knowledge, I did. And I was joyous – not that I had lived through the night, but that I had not been afraid to die. I was at PEACE with myself, a priceless revelation.”

Can I peacefully pray the children’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…?” God desires to give us such peace that no matter what our circumstances or situations, He will keep us in perfect peace as our fretful thoughts are surrendered to Him.

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One thought on “Defeating the Tyranny of the Urgent

  1. Great post and definitely needed as my semester comes to a close. This same idea could be extended to the church. We are often so caught up in services, programs, mission trips etc that we fail to slow down and live at peace with one another.

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