Too Busy to See We’re Blind

We are a performance-driven people, which means we’re also a budgeted people. 16 hours — 1 hour of commute, 1 for eating, 9 for work, .5 for Netflix, 1 hour for devotions, and brushing our teeth in the car. We’ve got fifteen minutes here and there. Busy.

Hey, wanna get coffee? Obviously: I’m busy. It’s who we are. Money’s tight. Time’s sparse. Energy’s low. We keep the fixes in our pockets, endless easy helps and hacks. Financial advisor. Scheduling app. Caffeine. What about exercise? Must make time for that too. Google: “Lose fat fast.” The stomachs of our souls grumble with the question:

How can I do the most, and be the best, as fast as possible?

And if we’re not busy, it sends us and the people we want to impress a clear message: failure. You’re not busy? You must be lazy. A loser. We wouldn’t say it, but we behave that way. Ever take out your phone and flip through it in a waiting room, just to look like you’re busy? To be bored was once an inconvenience — now it’s treated like cancer: something to be treated at any expense, with whatever means.

The human race has never had such meticulously measured self-understanding. Mile time. IQ. EQ. INTJ. Bench press. Body fat percentage. What’s your Enneagram number? Hours slept. Time wasted. Dollars saved. Percentage yielded. All these metrics give us a way to grade the success of our busyness. We break from all the labor to log into Facebook — How do I compare? We’re insecure. Wow, they’re so busy. I wish I was that busy.

And all the while, we feel our souls becoming thin, shallow, dissolving in all the multitasking.

Busy From Birth

What can we find in the Bible to justify and fuel our obsession with busyness? Fast-paced Jesus. Busy Jesus. Early-in-the-morning Jesus. Carpenter Jesus. Busy man, working man, preaching man, leading man, people-person Jesus.

But then a different profile: “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth” (John 9:1). Day after day, the man sits and begs (John 9:8) — a man without pretense, without schedule, without plans, without friends, without respect, without money, with no reason to hope things could change. . . . He’s not busy. He didn’t chase after Jesus like other blind men (Matthew 9:27). Nor did Jesus heal him right there in the moment. Rather, “he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing” (John 9:6–7).

It’s time to exhale. Pause. Just for a second, stop thinking about your plans for today. Stop thinking about what you’ll do after you finish reading this article.

We’re so busy, we aren’t quite sure how to relate to a needy blind man with nothing to do. But we are him — we’re blind. We are born into work, into dirt and darkness, into blindness. We had no choice. And we wish it wasn’t that way, but no matter how hard we try to hone our spiritual senses, week after week, God’s Sabbath rest just feels like another box to check — another dirty thorn from the ground.

We’re not blind to the world around us — all the busyness happening around us all the time. We’re blinded by the world around us to God himself. We are so blind that it is God who must see us — “ . . . as he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” We’re so busy, that it’s Jesus who must be busy toward us. We are blind to ourselves, to the pool of purpose and peace (called Sent), blind to our Savior.

Blind, But Not Out of Sight

“Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes” (John 9:14). Jesus searches you out. When you can recognize that you are blind, you can recognize how he sees you, knows you, and works for you —

You, with anointed weaknesses,
You, with a God who is not too busy for you,
You, with a call to be washed,
You, who are Sent,
You, with a Savior who seeks you out, to be your Sabbath rest.

Breathe and see, blind child. Our rest is not measured in minutes or hours, but in proximity. Sabbath is a day, but it is also a place with God — a place he makes, where he pursues, even when our world is moving at hyper-speed, and we feel like we live on the edge of imminent catastrophe. Even when we have everything to lose, we are the blind man of whom Jesus will not lose sight.

Sabbath is not just an an interruption of your to-do list — the bullet-points that dominate our day. Sabbath is an encounter. And Jesus — the God who separated dry land from the waters — will mix them together again to create a Sabbath morning and evening in us — with the mud, with our mess — by his initiative.

Do you feel like the world is on your shoulders?
Do you feel like every bad thing is your fault?
Is anxiety ceaselessly simmering in your heart?
Do you check your phone every five minutes?

There is a beautiful freedom in blindness. When “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), it is in that place that God gives us eyes to see. Jesus tells us, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (John 9:41).

Turn off your phone, at least whenever you can. Face God authentically each morning. The world doesn’t rest on your shoulders. Your sanctification is not a failing project. Your Savior is not constantly embarrassed at the Holy Trinity Board Meetings, Listen, I thought this guy was a good investment. But we may want to cut our losses and call it time wasted.

Jesus is with you in the frantic wind tunnel of life, even when it feels like an out-of-control rat race. God may not be blocked out on your calendar, but you are an “All-Day Event” on his. When we are blinded with busyness, he still sees us, and pursues us, and anoints us with his rest.

There is a day
when the road neither
comes nor goes, and the way
is not a way but a place.
—Wendell Berry (A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems)

is a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and philosophy professor at Moody Bible Institute.