We sometimes hear people complain, “I’m always working, but I never seem to accomplish anything.” When work is undertaken with a sense of hurry or pressure, often we find that little is accomplished. A great deal is heard about “wasted motion” today; experts are hired to help businesses eliminate unnecessary steps and ensure maximum efficiency with minimum cost and effort.
We can be models of purposeful activity by taking only the steps indicated by the greatest “efficiency expert” of all, God. Tasks can be completed properly, and with joy, when we accept God as the source of all right action. God, being omnipotent, precludes the existence of anything other than perfect action. If we are listening for God’s direction, living His commandments, loving His creation, and striving to obey His law, we will naturally refrain from activities that do not comply with that law. As a result of following God’s guidance, our cost in terms of anxiety, sorrow, pain, or lack is lessened. We can remember to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10), and while we are still and knowing, our tasks are accomplished calmly and correctly.
While doing research on this subject, I found a dictionary that describes busyness as an obsolete precursor to the word business. Business suggests a pursuit of purposeful activity, while busyness often denotes “much ado about nothing.” To me, it’s natural that the two words aren’t linked as much in modern usage today.
When we busy ourselves with activities that do not further our spiritual growth, we are like a mole who industriously burrows into the earth, but remains blind to the beauty, air, and freedom above him. No one can deny he is active, but he is channeling his energies in a limited underground sphere. Let’s not, by burrowing busily into materiality, blind ourselves to unlimited, God-given opportunities, but rather, let’s lift our concepts and broaden our view to envision God’s eternal kingdom. This kingdom is where, as Mary Baker Eddy says, “God rests in action” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 519). This action cannot be purposeless or mis-directed. It will always be purposeful and productive.
Tasks can be completed with joy when we accept God as the source of all right action.
Some years ago, we moved into a neighborhood where all the houses were new, everyone had small children, and a group of mothers soon established a delightful social calendar full of luncheons, bike rides, bridge parties, and evening social events with our husbands. It seemed ideal, until a petty disagreement arose between one of the women and me, consequently ending our friendship. Overnight, I was ostracized from the group. Living next door to this woman, I could hear the merriment that continued without me when she threw parties. After many tears, I decided to find solace in reading the Bible from beginning to end. So, I’d read for a while, cry for a while, and then read some more, but finally, many pages later, I did find peace. That exercise was just what I needed. I realized that I had come to depend upon endless social interaction and events as a way to keep myself occupied, but that I could find fulfillment in other, more meaningful ways. Since I lived across the street from an elementary school, I decided to put my teaching certificate to use, and applied for a substitute teaching position. I spent several productive, happy years at work until we moved from the area. What a learning experience! Much of that social “rushing around” had blinded me to the productive side of my being. Looking back, I’m grateful for this experience since it was the catalyst that jolted me out of being “busy” and prodded me into a satisfactory business!
The accounts in the Bible of Jesus’ healing of the multitudes, walking on the waves, and raising the dead reveal a man who expressed majesty, poise, and grace while performing his daily tasks. It is hard to picture Jesus hurrying frantically to the bedside of Jairus’ daughter, or running away fearfully when his persecutors came to stop his influence. Jesus was forever about his “Father’s business”—a business that consists of the constant application of and attention to God’s commands (see Luke 2:49).
When we become imbued with this right concept of activity, any tendency toward “busyness” is eradicated and a God-directed sense of being about our Father’s “business” will prevail.
Irene Schanche Bowker is a Christian Science practitioner from Palos Verdes Estates, California.