If my soul had a mascot, it would be the hare from Alice in Wonderland; you know, the one who hops around frantically singing, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date; no time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
Left to myself, I have a frenetic soul and am easily torn in multiple directions with different priorities. I tend to overthink and overanalyze, wondering if I am currently doing what I should be doing, how I should it be doing and with whom I should be doing it. In its hurried state, my soul can neither distinguish between good, better and best nor differentiate between needs and calls.
Like a top, my soul continues in this frantic spinning until one of two things happens: either it runs out of energy or someone gently interrupts my spin cycle.
When reading Soul Keeping, a conversation between the author, John Ortberg, and his mentor Dallas Willard, convicted me regarding this hurried state of soul.
“Dallas pointed out to me once that there is a world of difference between being busy and being hurried. Being busy is an outward condition, a condition of the body. It occurs when we have many things to do. Busy-ness is inevitable in modern culture. If you are alive today in North America, you are a busy person….Being hurried is an inner condition, a condition of the soul. It means to be so preoccupied with myself and my life that I am unable to be fully present with God, with myself, and with other people. I am unable to occupy the present moment. Busy-ness 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.”
Guilty as charged. I quickly slip from outward busy-ness to inward hurried-ness, and my joy, peace and clarity of purpose are the casualties.
Thankfully, I have a Father who loves me too much to watch my hurried soul scurry about. Even in the necessary busyness of life as a wife, mother and minister of the gospel, He refuses to let me live in a hurried state of soul. He intervenes, reaching down to pick up my spinning soul, stilling me in the palm of His strong hand.
He waits until the dizziness wears off, and then tells me what He has already told me a thousand times.
“Silly girl, there is but one thing needful: sitting at my feet. This cannot be taken away from you. I know the choice to still yourself before me, to sit aimlessly with me, feels unproductive in the moment; however, it has dividends into eternity and changes the way your soul works today.”
Then He sits my exhausted soul down next to Psalm 46, until it starts to breath again in rhythm with Him, according to His peace and pace.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fail. God will help her at the break of day…He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’.” Psalm 46:1-2 4-5 & 10.
The Hebrew word translated river, nahar, refers to a perennial stream, a river that continues to flow as opposed to nachal, which refers to flood beds that are dry except in the rainy seasons.
As believers, we have the constant, steady, gladdening stream of the Holy Spirit within us at all times and in all outward circumstances. The mountains may be caving in or the errands may be piling up, but the river remains.
The river whose streams make glad my soul, the Holy Spirit with God’s peace and power pulse through me even in the midst of outward turmoil or busyness. His Spirit enables me to be still and still moving, to be busy in my outward life, yet unhurried in soul.
Father, still our spinning souls. Sit us beside the constant river of your Spirit, that even in busy outward circumstances, we may not be hurried, but held. Amen.