November 24, 1998
In a recent crusade, Billy Graham said “busy people have forgotten their souls.” His remark recalls a story about an expedition through a jungle. The white leader pushed for rapid progress but his native servants kept stopping. He thought they were lazy but they said they simply wanted “time to let our souls catch up with our bodies.”
Slow people frustrate those who think full-speed ahead is the only way to make progress. However, being in a rush puts our bodies at risk. Type A personalities have heart attacks. As Graham says, they can also experience a breakdown in their soul.
Long-term soul-neglect sometimes has delayed symptoms. A person might seem fine for a time then suddenly collapse. One Christian leader uses “sink holes” to describe it. A hidden stream of water washes away subsoil until what appears to be a normal area of ground, suddenly develops a huge, gaping hole. Without warning, it caves in.
According to Graham, soul-neglect begins when people ignore their inner ache. He said, “There’s a hole in your heart and in your life. You’d like it to be filled, but you don’t know what it is. And you’ve tried so many things, like drugs and sex. All these things haven’t satisfied the deepest longing you have because that something you’re looking for is God.”
He adds, “people long for a transcendent, timeless touch from God” but instead of going to Him for it, they get involved in the frantic pace of modern life, leaving no time for their souls.
By leaving God out of our lives, that inner void grows deeper. Instead of stopping to fill it with Him, people step up the pace. As the evangelist said, they swirl through life on quick fixes, up-to-the-minute news, instant this and that, amounting to a diet that does not satisfy their deepest needs.
I’ve watched people do it. A combination of soul-neglect and a penchant for quick remedies produces superficial lives and superficial cures. That unsatisfied cry of the heart goes unheard and these people eventually collapse, largely under a load of their own creation.
This solution is obvious: slow down and give time to God. Jesus puts it this way: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Graham uses the Bible to say, “We are powerless to change our spiritual condition, and when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” To be changed, we need to take our lives and our sins and give everything to Jesus. He forgives sin and changes the way we live.
Part of that change is a deep, inner peace that only He can produce in our souls. He fills the void and our busy, restless hearts find rest in Him. While we cannot do that ourselves, we can learn about Him by reading the Bible, worshiping with others and praying.
Learning about Jesus includes the discovery that He is gentle and humble. Busy people often find the only way they can tolerate gentle, humble people is to become that themselves. With God’s help, they can.
Jesus also says rest for a busy soul includes dropping our burden and sharing His. In English, that word “burden” is a turnoff to those who are already worn out. However, in the original language it is not quite what we think. The earlier phrase “weary and burdened” is talking about a load of freight. That is what we try to carry. Jesus’ “light burden” is another word. That culture used it to describe that little piece of paper tacked to the freight, the invoice!
That leaves a choice to those of us who tend to get too busy. Do we want a sinkhole? Or would we rather have the fatigue that goes with carrying around an invoice?