For many, hurry, rush, and more rush seem to be defining characteristics of the way things happen in the 21st century. Time often seems to be the dominant factor – if not the essence – of lots of transactions and events.
In all this rush, we sometimes lose track of what our goal is, where we’re ultimately heading, and why. This quandary was summed up in the final image of the popular film “Up in the Air,” when the superefficient businessman, Ryan Bingham, stood before a massive flight information board in an airport with the quizzical expression of a man who realizes that his life in the fast lane has brought him to an uncomfortable emotional place.
Is there an alternative to such side effects of the perpetual hurry of our modern world? Isn’t it necessary to rush to keep from being left behind?
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, was aware of the tendency to hurry and rush, and she counseled against such an approach to living. She wrote, “Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 230). In the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she described a more serene biblically inspired way to live in which God, divine Love, is discerned to be at the center of things.
After I graduated from college, I was very eager to establish a place for myself professionally in the way many college graduates are doing today. In order to do that, I “rushed around,” thinking that time was of the essence and that opportunities would slip away if I didn’t try to grab them all at once. This turned out to be a stressful approach to life, and my hurried and scattered approach took its toll on me. The Bible’s book of Proverbs indicates that this style of living was misguided: “[O]ne who moves too hurriedly misses the way” (19:2, New Revised Standard Version).
With the hope of bringing adjustment to this situation, I turned to the study of Christian Science. My study showed me that rather than push my own agenda in a hurried way, I could trust in God – the source of all intelligence – to unfold my life according to His plan. This would occur in God’s time. It relieved stress to see that all the good God had planned for me could not be forced into existence, nor could it be outlined – preconceived – effectively by me alone.
Soon I felt inspired to adopt a different approach to life choices, becoming willing to follow an individual path that seemed right for me, not one that I saw others choosing and trying to fit myself into it. I began to pray and listen before making decisions and became committed to a less harried way of living.
This calmer approach enabled me to find a better focus for my work, and I ended up contributing to a field that had always interested me a lot. Discerning the presence of divine Love became important, and I stopped being so concerned about myself and thought more about relating in harmony with others. The result was a fuller and more satisfying life.
I found an eloquent explanation of what I learned through that process in this passage by Mrs. Eddy: “According to my calendar, God’s time and mortals’ differ. The neophyte is inclined to be too fast or too slow: he works somewhat in the dark; and, sometimes out of season, he would replenish his lamp at the midnight hour and borrow oil of the more provident watcher.... The disobedient make their moves before God makes His, or make them too late to follow Him. Be sure that God directs your way; then, hasten to follow under every circumstance” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 117).
Of course there are times when it’s right to move quickly along in life, not delay, or to break out of inertia. It takes God’s gifts of grace and spiritual discernment to recognize those times. The key is finding the right rhythm for living – not too fast or too slow, too early or too late. If we are willing to be still and to listen for God’s guidance, the “still small voice” of Truth will help us establish a rhythm for living that feels right. Then we’ll often find ourselves doing the right thing at the right time.
Demonstrating this kind of spiritual wisdom enables us to gain dominion over the timing of our lives so that hurry and rush no longer define our way of doing things. We will find that what’s essential is the inspiration of Love, and we’ll be able to live in a way where time is no longer of the essence.
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