The disciples had a front row seat to watch how Jesus dealt with the “tyranny of the urgent.” Imagine the crowds, the immeasurable amount of unmet needs during the public ministry of Christ. How did the Lord manage the pressure? So much to do, so little time to do it. So he gave authority to his disciples and sent them out—two by two—multiplying his efforts to bring the good news through signs and wonders and a message of hope to the thirsty.
Yet, the tasks were too great, the needs never-ending. The poor, the sick, the lame, the dying, the demonized, the thirsty, the hungry, all continued to come for a merciful touch from the Messiah. Everywhere he turned, the tyranny of the urgent demanded Christ’s attention, taxing his flesh enough that he was able to remain asleep on a ship in the middle of a fierce storm.
Every day we face our tyrannical voices of the urgent. Unreturned phone calls, unopened emails, texts waiting for a response, people or friends or family we need to meet with, growing children who require our attention, intimate time with our spouses, all of which are important but somehow get shoved to the side when the “urgent” knocks on our door, or rings in our hands through caller ID.
How often I’ve wished for longer days, or resented the need to get some sleep if I wanted to stay healthy and survive the stress. But no matter how many hours I have in a day, it still won’t be enough to get everything done that’s piling up. I’ll still fight a sense of guilt about what I failed to accomplish that day. The frenetic pace of trying to keep up creates unnecessary stress that could lead to depression. So what’s a person to do?
The answer is found in the life of Jesus who had more on his plate, more “urgent” matters crying out to him than you and I will ever experience in a day. With all he had to do, in such a short life on earth, he managed to stop and talk to the woman at the well, pray for the demoniac of Gerasenes, or stop the funeral procession on the street and raise a widow’s dead son back to life. And when he couldn’t go to the place where the centurion’s servant was sick, he simply spoke the word and the centurion returned home to find his servant healed. He even managed to go from town to town, village to village and feed the hungry, heal the sick, give sight to the blind and preach the gospel without allowing the people to force their agendas beyond the boundaries he had set for himself each day.
When did Jesus set these boundaries? When did he lay out his plans and make them the priority, instead of the demands of the “urgent?” He made time for the Father. He didn’t operate independently, but predisposed himself toward Abba, Father—perhaps to receive his marching orders for the day, or recalibrate his agenda to draw his strength and source of guidance from his Father so that what he chose to do, was only that which the Father showed him to do—and he did this AS HE WENT. I believe this because this was the instruction he gave to his disciples:
AS YOU GO … preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.