One of the results of Hurricane Harvey was an imaginary gasoline shortage in the Dallas Texas area, where I live. One by one, gas stations and convenience stores ran out of fuel as fear-filled drivers waited, sometimes for hours, to fuel up their vehicles. I visited 5 stations before I was even able to find gas. My tank had been on empty all day, and I was nervous. As I sat in line with other drivers waiting for fuel, I kept an eye on the gauge that tells me how many “miles left until you are stranded alone; doomed, desperate, and hopeless”. Each time the gauge dropped another digit, the uneasy feeling inside me grew stronger. It was surreal. And frightening.
American is a land of opportunity and plenty. So much so, we are spoiled. We do not know how to do without, to “make do”, to get by with what we have. It seems we always need more, and we want it right now. Regrettably, I am one of those people. I fear not having enough, of running out, of being without. It is not a reasonable fear, but it persists.
As a long-time fan of capitalism, I find the aftertaste bitter and unpleasant. Sure, we’ve made money for our government, our companies, and we’ve provided for our families. We’ve been generous and charitable to others. And we support the economy by consuming products and services. My goodness -how we consume. Our collective mantra isn’t a deep spiritual prayer, its “buy, buy, buy!” Then we worry how we’ll pay for it all.
Jesus knows this is a danger for us. In Luke’s account of Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha, He says, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Indeed. I have been like Martha. It grieves me to be so wrong on my priorities, yet this thing is deeply ingrained in me. It is one of my identities: Guy Who Accomplishes Things (and fears he will not accomplish enough). But it’s not only me. It is ingrained in our culture.
Do your best.
Be all you can be.
We do more by 9:00 am than most people do all day.
Don’t slack off.
Don’t retreat, advance!
The act of “doing” is beneficial. Things get done. Lists are accomplished. Goals are met. Advancements are made. Progress is realized. Oh, we love progress. “The new iPhone is available in fuscia? Brilliant!”
Progress is not a bad thing; unless it costs us the ability to be. This is one of the largest stumbling blocks in my path: the desire to do is far greater than the desire to be. “Doing life” is not satisfying, it’s a vacuum. It steals our joy and peace, leaving us feeling more empty than before.
God is emphatic… “be still and know that I am God.” Stillness is the opposite of doing, and a difficult thing to attain. It seems easier to work a 60-hour week and browse what’s on sale at Amazon.com.
Please excuse me. I have to pay my American Express bill now.