Our lives are busy. Really busy. It’s probably the most common response I get when I ask people, “How have you been?” “Busy.” It may be the most common response I give, too. Sadly, I’ve been realizing how my busyness—all my attempts to find rest in achieving and in gaining control and keeping order in my life—can blind me to the most important moments, the most important people, and the work of God happening right before my eyes.
That’s one of the bajillion reasons why I love seeing Jesus in the pages of the gospels. We’ve been in Matthew’s gospel lately for our 2019 Bible Reading Plan. And I’ve noticed that Jesus is never in a hurry. Never rushed or frantic or distracted. He was busy—crowds and crowds of people gathering to him everywhere he went, desperate for healing and for his words of hope. Multitudes, all the time. But he was never too busy for what mattered most—loving God and loving others (Mt 22:37-40).
That’s the amazing thing with Jesus. He was present in the moment. Present to God. And present to the person in front of him. He saw them. Really saw them.
- “When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with fever” (Mt 8:14).
- “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth” (Mt 9:9).
- “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Mt 9:22).
- “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36).
So it goes with Jesus. He “reclined at table” with sinners (Mt 10:10), made time for children (Mt 19:13-15), and stopped to show compassion to two blind beggars along the roadside (Mt 20:39-40). His priorities and agenda were shaped by God’s heart, by love for God and love for others, by slowing down to pay attention to God at work around him, by seeing with eyes of the Spirit. That makes for a rich life. I want to learn it from Jesus.
John Perkins, a well-known Christian author, speaker, and social justice advocate, nearly 90 years old, with the aura about him of one who has long walked with and learned at the feet of Jesus, says it like this:
“I have found, I believe, what God wants me to do with the remainder of my life. And me sitting here with you is that. This moment is the most important moment, and you are the most important individual I can be talking to.”
I love that. So simple, but so profound. This is the most important moment. You are the most important person. A life devoted to being present in each moment—not in a hurry to get on to the next thing, to get my list done, but present to what God is doing in this moment. And devoted to seeing the person right in front of me—my children, my coworkers, the cashier at the store, the person sitting near me at church. Not seeing them as a distraction or interruption or hindrance to accomplishing my agenda. But seeing them—really seeing them—and slowing down to be fully present to them.
I think there’s a richness in that kind of living. Jesus had it. He invites us into it. And maybe, just maybe, because Jesus is the one who gives sight to the blind, there’s hope for those of us who get blinded by our busyness. Hope we might really learn to see.
“Lord, let our eyes be opened” (Mt 20:33). Amen.