Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tyranny of the Urgent

I read a book yesterday, entitled Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles E. Hummel. This morning I noticed that the one I read is apparently the "revised and expanded version." Amusing, since the book is 3.5" x 5", and only 32 pages long, including the usual blank and title-related pages at the beginning and end. It makes me wonder what the original un-expanded version looked like. And isn't 32 pages a nice, small size for someone who wants to read a book with that title? At any rate, the ten minutes it took to read it were worthwhile.

Consider this, from page six.... John 17 records that on the night before Jesus died, he prayed to his Father, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." Hummel writes, "We wonder how Jesus could have talked about a completed work. His three-year ministry seemed all too short. A prostitute at Simon's banquet had found forgiveness and a new life, but many other still plied their trade. For every ten withered muscles that had flexed into health, a hundred remained impotent. The blind, maimed and diseased abounded throughout the land. Yet on that last night, with many urgent human needs unmet and useful tasks undone, the Lord had peace. He knew that he had completed the work God had given him."

There was a day recently when I had a to-do list as long as my arm, so I woke very early and headed into town so I could get plenty done before anything else had opportunity to wedge its way into my schedule. I made a brief stop along the way, and it stretched into an hour during which I accomplished absolutely nothing on my to-do list. As I left there and got into my car, I thought about how much I could have gotten done during that hour, but just briefly, because what I'd stopped to do was so much more important than what I'd stopped doing. While I wished my to-do list had somehow become shorter, I had no regrets.

"If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). This is scripture, and true, right? But "many of us have experienced Christ's deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. Are we also letting him free us from the tyranny of the urgent?" (Hummel). I want to live in tune with God's plan and calling for my life. That is what captures my heart today.

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