Title: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World
Author: John Mark Comer
Here’s a stunning stat: Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the average person got 11 hours of sleep each night.
Eleven hours! Contrast that to our hectic lives now, where we probably feel lucky if we get even seven or eight hours of sleep.
Our world has definitely gotten much busier, fuller, and more hurried than it was a couple hundred years ago. Which is why John Mark Comer’s excellent book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is a wonderful — and challenging — breath of fresh air.
Several key Scripture passages form the backbone of Comer’s message in this book. The first is 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is patient…”
Isn’t it interesting that patient is the first adjective Paul uses to describe love? But it’s true: love requires patience. As Comer puts it, “Hurry and love are incompatible… they do not mix.” The same with joy and peace — hurry robs us of those too.
Hurry and love are incompatible… They do not mix
“Love is painfully time consuming. All parents know this, as do all lovers and most long-term friends. … There’s a reason people talk about ‘walking’ with God, not ‘running’ with God. It’s because God is love” (p. 23).
What if one of the best steps to improve your relationship with God isn’t to do more of X, Y, or Z, but simply to slow down and make unhurried space for abiding in His presence and communing with Him? If Jesus critiqued Martha for being “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41), what would He say to us? Would we even have time to hear it?
A second scripture that is central to this book is Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Wow! What a beautiful invitation. Especially in part two of the book, Comer encourages us to adapt not just the teachings of Jesus, but also His lifestyle (p. 82). Jesus was patient; intentional; not in a rush (even when urgent situations developed around Him); present in each moment; and always full of love, joy, and peace. What better yoke to be invited to shoulder?
A third verse Comer explores in this book is Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
It’s true — our bodies aren’t designed to race full-speed seven days a week. God in His kindness instituted the Sabbath (the Hebrew word Shabbat means “to stop”), setting an example for us by resting after the Creation (Genesis 1-2).
The Sabbath was instituted by God in His kindness
In pages 173-176, Comer describes what his Sabbath routine looks like, and how it helps rejuvenate his entire week. We’re not under the Old Testament law, so Sabbathing will look different for us depending on how we observe it, but could a regular practice of intentional rest do us more good than we realise?
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was just published a couple years ago, so its examples and references are all timely, current, and insightful. (A friend of mine recommended To Hell with Hustle by Jefferson Bethke — another Christian book that similarly focuses on the topic of rest or slowing down.)
Whether you’re able to read these books or not, I would encourage all of us to remember the importance of rest and the beauty of Sabbath. Of unhurried, undistracted time with the Lord. Of being patient, present, peaceful, and prayerful.
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