Our lives are marked with hurry
We are in a hurry wherever we go. And wherever we are, we can’t be present because we are thinking about where we need to be next. This has been revealed to us in an unprecedented way by how our schedules were absolutely halted by the pandemic. But I can already begin to feel it picking up again.
John Ortberg has written in his book, Soul Keeping, that “Hurry is the great enemy of our souls.” He writes,
Being busy is a condition of our outer world (having many things to do). Being hurried is a problem of the soul. It’s being so preoccupied with myself and what myself has to do that I am no longer able to be fully present with God with myself, and with other people. I am unable to occupy the present moment. Busyness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives. . . I cannot live in the kingdom of God with a hurried soul. I cannot rest in God with a hurried soul.
In other words, our souls cannot thrive when they are this hurried. It is possible that if your soul feels it is withering, it may be because of the amount of hurry in your life.
In the span of about 6 verses in Mark 1:9-15, we see Jesus be baptized, tempted in the wilderness, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus seems extremely busy, and maybe even in a rush!
In fact, one of the markers of Mark’s gospel is the frequency with which Mark uses the word “immediately.” He uses it 41 times in the 15 chapters of his Gospel. But was Jesus hurried? Was his soul at risk of being overcome with hurry? Let’s investigate.
Receiving the Affirmation of our Father
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” Mark 1:9-11
Jesus was baptized in the presence of an extremely large crowd on the banks of the Jordan (Mark 1:5). My preoccupation in that moment might have been, “what are those people thinking about me?” or the nerves of being at the center of everyone’s attention at this moment. What if I mess up? What if I drowned? What if I come up choking? What if I make a fool of myself?
There is a major difference between self-focus and self-awareness. Self-focus is an internal processing of what the external world is thinking about us at the moment. Self-awareness is an internal processing of what is happening internally – such as emotions, motives, desires, values, and personal character. All of the self-focused questions above are not us being present with ourselves, it is our attempt to predict what is happening in everyone else’s mind. In this moment, we are entirely dis-integrated in ourselves.
Jesus, however, was entirely focused the heavens, the Spirit, and the voice of his Father. Jesus was not preoccupied with himself, with what those standing on the shore thought of him being baptized by John, or anything except being present with the Spirit and the Father. In being present with the Father, he could fully receive the Father’s affirmation, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” How often are we fully present enough with the Father to fully receive his affirmation: “you are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
Short-circuiting God’s preparation process
12 Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him. Mark 1:12-13
In light of this intimacy with the Father, through the Spirit, Jesus is driven into the wilderness to be tempted. It is important here to remember every bit of what we said about the desert or wilderness in our previous passage. In the desert, Jesus would be with God, he would begin his ministry, and be prepared for it there as well.
Though Jesus was hungry and subject to great temptation, he was not in a hurry to escape this moment. Jesus may have literally been in the desert 40 days, but more important is what 40 days represents: In the Hebrew tradition, the number “40” represented the idea of “fullness of time.” Jesus was not interested in meeting minimum time requirements. Jesus was in the wilderness for the full amount of time necessary for his preparation to be complete.
How many of us, in a hurry, have short-circuited God’s preparatory work in our lives because we “had somewhere else to be?” By being present, even in the struggle of his temptation, he experienced the power of being accompanied by God’s angels, and developed the endurance to persevere in his suffering. Endurance does not develop in a hurry.
The Good News of the Unhurried Kingdom
14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! ” Mark 1:14-15
When the fullness of time had come for Jesus to begin his ministry, he begins in the town of Galilee. There he proclaims the good news of God: the Kingdom of God is near. This was an urgent message, to be sure. It still is. But its urgency did not demand a hurried soul to share it. It was also not a message to incite hurry in our souls with such fear-mongering statements as, “If you died today, where would you go?”
The good news of the Kingdom is a message to be savored and to soak in. The message of repentance does involve a confession. But, it is a confession that our souls are eager to give when we know the burden will be lifted off our weary souls by it. The confession to enter the kingdom is the acknowledgement that we no longer have to live as the world tells us to. We no longer have to live at its pace, meeting its demands, making its compromises. There is a better way, the way of the unhurried kingdom of God.