Life in Focus

Where following Jesus and Every Day Life Intersect

Frenzy is Not Your Friend

3 Comments

IMG_7818

Snuggling up next to me on the couch, my son settled in for a good story. He was home sick from school and thoroughly enjoying a little quiet time with my undivided attention. After a hectic week, both of us enjoyed slowing down to read a favorite illustrated book from his childhood: Jennifer and Josephine by Bill Peet.

Told from the perspective of a stray cat named Josephine, the story describes her days spent living in the back seat of an old touring car. The opening scene depicts a junkyard with the rusted out car, named Jennifer, slowly falling apart. Much to Josephine’s surprise, however, a traveling salesman buys the old car planning to drive her hard until she dies.

After riding in the backseat for a few miles, Josephine nicknames the salesman “Mr. Frenzy,” highlighting his constant rush to get from one place to the next. She describes him as a pushy, rude bully who drives Jennifer quickly and carelessly over winding country roads. Mr. Frenzy takes one risk after another, with no heed for other drivers or the property that he destroys along the way.

Reading the story made me think of times when I could be nicknamed “Mrs. Frenzy.” The busier I become and the more I cram into my schedule, the less sensitive I become to those around me. There is an illusion of control that comes with packing my schedule full. However, when I leave no margin in my time, I become thoughtless, impatient and irritable. Anything that stands in the way of accomplishing my agenda becomes an obstacle to be removed.

Usually, when I’m behaving like “Mrs. Frenzy,” I leave a wake of destruction in my path, much like the traveling salesman in the Bill Peet story. For starters, my frantic pace causes me to ignore basic household tasks: piles of clean laundry sit for days waiting to be folded and unopened mail clutters the counter. As I let the urgent overshadow the important, I become insensitive to people and don’t tend to relationships the way I should. In my frenzied state, I’m not open to being interrupted by people who need my help or attention. And most important of all, my frantic pace causes me to feel impatient even when I’m trying to spend time with God.

It’s funny how the Lord sends the same message in different ways until we finally receive it. The same week I read the story about Mr. Frenzy to my son, I’d read a devotion entitled “Silencing My Soul” that convicted me in a similar way. Using a psalm as her inspiration, the author challenges readers to spend five minutes daily being still before God, just listening for His voice and enjoying His presence: “But I have stilled and quieted my soul.” (Psalm 131:2, NIV)

The day I read it, I was already heading toward “Mrs. Frenzy” mode and had been rushing through my quiet time so I could get on with my day. Reading the printed prayer at the end of the entry convicted me: “Dear Lord, my soul is having a hard time being still. I lay down my resistance to silence, and commit to five minutes of daily silence with You for the next month. I praise You in advance for what You are going to say to me in the silence. Thank You for the rest only You can give. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (Wendy Pope, Encouragement for Today, p. 26)

It was no coincidence that I read that devotional on a day when I was in a rush. It was yet another reminder that I need to focus on God’s agenda for my day instead of trying to maintain a frenzied pace attempting to get everything done. It’s amazing how trusting Him allows me to accomplish exactly what I need to do. I guess that’s a picture of Jesus’ words:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

The “yoke” described here is a tool used for plowing a field. It is a curved piece of wood with two slots fitted over a pair of oxen. Imagine how unbalanced it would be to have one animal trying to carry a yoke meant for two. Similarly, when we try to carry our burdens on our own, we feel weary and beaten down. For someone like me, the added weight causes me to feel frenzied and overwhelmed. However, when we yoke ourselves to Jesus, He gives us the strength we need because we are walking in step with Him. There is no need to be frantic when the Maker of the earth and stars walks beside us and shares the load.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 46:10, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” (NIV)

Another translation says: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NASB)

When we take time to be still, God reminds us He is Lord of all and we are not. Our striving is a vain attempt to be in control of our lives. Ultimately, it makes us exhausted and depleted. However, when we quiet our souls, we are reminded to put God in His proper place as the main focus and priority in our lives.

When I’m “Mrs. Frenzy,” my priorities are based on my agenda. I’m wild-eyed, impatient and definitely not someone who is restful to be around (just ask my family). In conquer mode, I usually do a lot more harm than good. However, when I’ve taken time to be still and have spent time being filled up by the Holy Spirit. I give God room to bless others through me. I’m at peace, which allows others to be restful in my presence.

Will you join me in taking the challenge to spend five minutes being still before God every day for a month?   You might be surprised at how long it feels as you try to empty your mind and focus solely on resting in Him.   I’ll give you a little boost for your first time– just click on the link and listen to “Be Still and Know” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. If you can be still for 3 minutes and 16 seconds to listen to this song then you only have another minute and 44 seconds to go!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgaHaioAjyg

Peet, Bill: Jennifer and Josephine; Houghton Mifflin; 1967.

Swope, Renee; TerKeurst, Lysa; Evilsizer, Samantha and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Teams; Encouragement for Today; Zondervan; 2013.

Advertisements

Author: mmccullum

Marybeth McCullum enjoys writing and blogging about her Christian faith and how it intersects with everyday life. Her goal in every post is to encourage, challenge and inspire her readers. She is in her 10th year at CPC's Focused Living Women's Bible study and currently serves as Coordinator. She also writes a regular blog and speaks occasionally. You can find her page on Facebook at: Marybeth Mc Cullum- Author. Learn more about her other endeavors at marybethmccullum.com.

3 thoughts on “Frenzy is Not Your Friend

  1. Another perfectly timed blog! I’m “in” for the 5 minute challenge and looking forward to the quiet time w/God.

    Like

  2. This reminds me of a statement by Dallas Willard where he says if you want to walk with God, you must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That phrase ruthlessly eliminate hurry has really stuck with me. Just like you said Marybeth, when I am in a rush I am not available to love or listen to others. Hurry is a form of selfishness, isn’t it? I found it interesting how you put incomplete tasks (such as the laundry getting done) in that category – I never thought about it that way before, but feeling like I have a long list of jobs weighing on me also causes me to be snappish and unloving toward others. Great post:) ps I am in for the 5 minute challenge too – it is easy for me to take the time to study the Bible but 5 minutes of simple quiet with God is more challenging.

    Like

  3. I love the Dallas Willard quote! One of my boys particularly hates to be rushed, so I’m sure he would be pleased to see me embrace this quote on a daily basis. So glad you are joining me in the 5 minute challenge! It motivates me to do it every day knowing there are others in it with me. So far, so good!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s