I remember hearing this saying years ago, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” I understand what the big idea behind this is: that busy-ness is just as dangerous and toxic to a life with God as outright disobedience and immorality. I’ll come back to that. But first, I want to take away some credit from the devil. Satan can’t make me- or anyone- “bad”. He can tempt us, entice us, lie to us, and try to throw us off course. But he has no power to control my choices. None. There was an old line a stand up comedian used to use, “The devil made me do it!” Except… he didn’t. I make plenty of dumb choices all by myself. The devil didn’t make me.
But let’s acknowledge a significant- and highly effective- strategy employed by the enemy of Jesus. In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, a senior “devil” or demon writes letters to his nephew, advising him in the best way to thwart the potential spiritual progress of his assigned human. Keeping this subject occupied with any number of activities, even good ones, is quite an effective strategy. Keep him or her busy, and they’ll never live the life Jesus offers- full and free. And the strategy seems to be working pretty well, as I look around- and look in the mirror.
Busy-ness may well be the most dangerous enemy of Jesus’ purposes in our world today, and I don’t say that lightly. I observe that we use the word “busy” a whole lot. But usually it’s with a subtle sense of pride: I’m busy because I’m working hard, doing good and significant things, right? I need to be busy, of course, because it makes me feel important, needed. I mean, what would you think of someone who wasn’t busy- who lived life at less than a break-neck pace? Maybe they’re just lazy!
But the truth is, busy-ness is not God’s highest and best for us. An overly full, hectic paced life is actually destructive to our soul. When we slow down a bit, when we release some of our striving and connect deeply with God, we’ll realize something important—we’re not Him. Lean into the words of Psalm 46:10 closely, “Be still (cease striving), and know that I am God.”
Let’s start to acknowledge that the enemy wants us to be really, really busy. But we’re onto him. As you sit with Jesus, let me invite you to ask Him, “What is something that’d You’d want me to say ‘NO’ to in order to say ‘YES’ to You more clearly?”