Having young children gives me an excuse to go to the movies and watch shows that I secretly want to watch but could never to go alone.
We recently took our kids to watch Christopher Robin. Instead of the playful child of the 100-acre wood, Christopher Robin has grown up and become too busy for playing and using his imagination. He works a stressful and demanding job for the sake of his family, but his job is the very thing making him too busy for them. His daughter gets little time with her daddy, so Robin promises a weekend away together; unfortunately, his work intrudes once again so his family must go without him. While I assume the movie is aimed at children, the message deals with a much more ‘adult’ problem.
In one particular scene, Christopher Robin is frantically moving through a crowded train station to catch his train so he can get back to work. Pooh wants to stop and get his red balloon that slipped out of his hand, but Robin doesn’t have time for something so futile. The balloon provides no functional value and doesn’t help accomplish any tasks…it’s “just a balloon.” The simple fact that Pooh enjoys the balloon is completely lost in a utilitarian mindset.
We live in a fast-paced world where value is often found in doing. The more we do, the busier we are, the more important we must be. It seems we’ve lost the ability, or the time, to enjoy the beauty around us. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” All around us is the evidence of God’s glory. Whether it’s the colorful petals of a flower or the towering heights of a pine tree, the simple beauty of God’s handiwork is everywhere.
Too often, though, we miss it. We’re so busy going from one task to the next we don’t have time to stop and enjoy the red balloon, or worse, the person next to us. Unless the people around us help us accomplish our goals or complete our tasks, they are simply overlooked or devalued. This is one reason why our culture aborts babies with down syndrome, views children as an inconvenience, and seldom visits nursing homes.
I feel the pull to busyness in my heart every day. I like checklists and the feeling of checking off a completed task. I feel accomplished when I leave work having completed my list. It’s good to be productive, and Scripture warns against the dangers of being a sluggard (Proverbs 26:13-16). Busyness isn’t necessarily a sin, but it can easily be a distraction. Like Martha, we become “anxious and troubled about many things” while neglecting what’s more important (Luke 10:38-42). Our busyness becomes our excuse for not spending time with the Lord or recognizing his handiwork. It can lead us to put tasks ahead of the people around us. We don’t have time to give to others made in the image of God because we need to get more work done.
We can even spiritualize our tasks to justify ourselves. We don’t want to waste our life, so we keep a busy lifestyle. But, what if a meaningful life is more than just accomplishing tasks? Maybe God is more glorified when I slow down enough to gaze at the stars and recognize them as a work of his hand. Maybe the most God-honoring thing I can do today is call my granny and chat for no particular reason or play catch with my son. If the people around us are too familiar hearing “not now, I’m too busy,” perhaps we’ve sacrificed them at the altar of the idol of busyness.
I won’t tell you how the movie ends, but I will say a bear who’s not afraid to slow down and enjoy the scrumdiddlyumptious honey has a valuable lesson for frantically busy people.
Take time to slow down and enjoy God’s goodness around you. Unplug from your emails, turn off your phone and play a board game with family or friends. Plant a garden and watch God’s creative power at work as a small seed produces flavorful tomatoes. Slow down long enough to enjoy the allure of a sunflower, or even something as simple as a red balloon. As you do, let the simple beauties in your life move your heart to worship as they point you to our Maker.