The Pace of Spiritual Health

By Anthony Gammage

“I’m really busy the next two months, but after that maybe we can connect.” This was my response to an incoming seminarian who lived up the stairs from me and one day asked if we could get together. Four months of awkward stairwell interactions passed and I was never able to “squeeze” him in before I graduated. “I have to have boundaries,” I told myself. I mean, I was working two jobs, going to school full-time, a husband, and a father…I can’t do it all! I wore the, “super-busy” moniker as a badge of honor. The unfortunate reality, however, was that I was spiritually dying inside, struggling with severe anxiety issues, not sleeping, veeeery grumpy, and in general, extremely unhealthy.

In my first three months as Pastor of Outreach at New Life, I have asked many in our congregation, “What are our greatest barriers to outreach?” The almost unanimous response from nearly 30 people was one word, “busyness.” You see, what I was experiencing in seminary is unfortunately the experience of many in our congregation today. The reality for 21st-century suburbanites is that we live in a world of great complexity and opportunity. The simple fact that we can do so much often means that we do do so much. But at what cost?

One of the most challenging books I have read in recent years is Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. In it he argues that what is most at risk in this epidemic of cultural busyness is our spiritual health. Even Matthew 13:22 warns us that one of the “thorns” that chokes out the Gospel is the “cares of the world.”

Our God is a God who gives His people rest (Matthew 11:28; Psalm 127:2; Hebrews 4). Unfortunately modern American churches rarely reflect such rest. We are usually too fried to say hi to our neighbors for fear of getting into a deeper conversation because we simply don’t have the time or capacity. This should trouble us greatly.

Inevitably, busyness will come – and it isn’t always bad. However, I would argue that the ruthless, unending busyness of our culture could be warning signs of the deeper spiritual sickness of finding “rest” by striving after heart idols which will finally leave us spiritually malnourished and frazzled. May we be a people who push against the frenetic busyness of our culture and find rest in Jesus alone.