Marcus Aurelius said something interesting about his father. He said that he admired his father because:
He examined things one by one, as if he had plenty of time, and without confusion, in an orderly way, vigorously and consistently.
That’s an odd attitude for such a powerful man – to act as though having plenty of time. And yet, we see the same attitude in Jesus. Jesus never had pressing business, but was always willing to adapt Himself to those who needed Him. In fact, when others were zealous in protecting His time from those they saw as undeserving, Jesus became angry with them:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’
Marcus Aurelius said also:
I learned that not frequently nor without necessity should I say to anyone ‘I have no time;’ nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties by alleging urgent business.
Yet if we were honest with ourselves, most would admit that we are closer to this state of affairs:
In his pride the wicked does not seek Him;
In all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Self-importance is among the chief vices of man. We’re swept up in our own affairs and goals, never once considering why we take ourselves so seriously. And we remain ignorant of the sad truth that when we fill up our lives to the brim with trifling matters, we negate the possibility of God working in and through us. In essence, busyness is among the chief barriers to finding our destiny. Here is a parable from Jesus:
A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
There is a verse in the Proverbs that says this:
The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.
Have you taken time to give thought to your ways, to consider why you spend your time as you do? Are you among those the ancient poet describes:
You who are anxious to get where you think you’re going.
Discover why you do what you do and remove the superfluous from your life, or you will be among those who tells the Lord of heaven that you are simply too busy when He comes to you to reveal your destiny. Marcus Aurelius went so far as to say:
Most of what we say and do is unnecessary, and if a man leaves them out, he will have more leisure and less trouble. So on every occasion a man should ask himself, ‘Is this one of the unnecessary things?’ Further, a man should leave off not only unnecessary acts, but also unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after.
What are the unnecessary things? We plan, we toil, we save, we spend, but seldom do we seek simplicity, seldom do we have the courage to wait on God. We fill up on the unnecessary, and often find ourselves too busy when the master of the banquet comes to seek our audience. Here is some advice from Marcus Aurelius:
Be not either a man of too many words, or busy about too many things.
In like fashion, Thoreau says:
My greatest skill has been to want but little.
Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth.
God desires to work in and through your life. But the fears of life keep us from simplicity. Fear convinces us to keep pressing on – earn more money, acquire nicer trifles, and save away more and more. But God says to seek first His kingdom. This requires courage – courage to banish the fears that tell us we waste our lives on spiritual nonsense when we could be advancing our careers or working toward our retirements.
The fact of the matter is that we each have a fixed measure of time apportioned to us. If we use our time to seek simplicity and seek first the Kingdom of God, He will stir us up to a new kind of living. If this is too difficult, then we will be among those who tell Him that we are too busy when He comes to invite us onward to greater things.
There are greater things prepared for us to do than what you have yet done, if only we would guard ourselves against the superfluous which keeps us from seeking His kingdom. Here is a verse which many have heard:
Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Most have said that this means to guard ourselves from dangerous persons, exploiters and the like. But I say, it equally means that we are to guard our hearts against those things which have no life, those creeping things which slowly develop and feed on our fears, which station themselves against the work that God is doing in and through our lives. Our hearts are crowded and cluttered, not the wellsprings of life they were designed to be. If we are to guard our hearts, let us guard them against the fear that we will be forgotten if we choose to seek God, and let us go confidently in the direction of His kingdom.