The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

January 10, 2013

Busyness Is No Excuse

Brittany Small

“No, I can’t. I’m so busy.”

Those words are almost a reflex for us. A habit. A way for us to communicate our plight to someone else in five easy words or less. But never before has a more vague response been accepted and reciprocated by so many people to get out of all sorts of things. Like not eating dinner together as a family. Or not having the time to call a friend. Or skipping the prayer time at the end of small group to go study.

Rejecting the Best Picture

But being busy is limiting the way we live, and robbing us of deep, authentic relationships and truly transformative experiences. It’s like we think our TVs from 1990 offer the best picture in an age of HD technology.

We’ve streamlined our lives to accommodate the present culture’s incessant nagging to plan(!), go(!), do(!), hoping that eventually it will be quiet. “After this week, things will settle down” becomes our weekly mantra, because each week, we keep finding things to fill up the calendar. And each week, we’re surprised at how quickly it filled up and how fast it went.

We’ve learned to settle for a cheap, formulaic version of life, and it’s our fault.

Our culture will continue to loudly demand we sacrifice our time, energy, and resources until we realize that it’s drowning out God—who’s inviting us to stop, rest, and reflect.

Reasons to Rest

Much to my surprise, I’ve discovered that the Old Testament talks a lot about rest. God himself rested after six days of creating in Genesis, and it wasn’t because he was tired. He asked the Israelites to do the same, and the land he led them into is referred to as their place of rest. We see God instruct his people to do certain tasks, but a reminder to rest follows closely behind.

In fact, a rhythm of rest was actually intended to set the Israelites apart from other nations and highlight the fact that they worshiped a different God—the one true God—and therefore lived a different way—the most life-giving way. God said, “The Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you. . . . It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (Exodus 31:13).

Resting helps us remember who God is and who we are as his people. It allows us to put him front and center, to acknowledge his abundant grace and our need to experience it. Without rest, we put God in the long list of things we’re just too busy for—maybe one line above our friend who we can’t make time to get together with.

Case in point: Just this morning, when my feet hit the floor, my thoughts jumped to all the work I needed to get done before students arrive for the start of a new semester. I started rushing around my room, picking out an outfit and packing my backpack. But somewhere between brushing my teeth and washing my face, I said no. This morning I wasn’t going to rush out of the house and into the office. This morning, I was going to rest. So I stopped, made a strawberry smoothie, and read my Bible wrapped up in my favorite blanket. Then I got into my sweats and went biking at the gym. I came home ready to see God at work in my day.

Resting My Case

We’ve become so good at being busy. Let’s get better at being restful. If we don’t, we run the risk of not being able to experience life in the glorious HD picture God designed for us. We also run the risk of forgetting who God is.

Let’s start today by leaving the office early and calling up a friend for coffee.

Brittany Small is an InterVarsity Campus Staff Member at her alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she graduated with a journalism and communications degree. She blogs on ministry at

Read other posts by Brittany:

My Students Change the World

Learning to Live Open-Handedly

Don't Ask: Reflections from Urbana 12


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