For most of us, life starts out fairly simple. When my wife and I married we could, quite literally, pack all our possessions in the back seat of our car. But along the way, we picked up clutter. The closets and attic overflow. Periodically I move boxes around in the garage so she can get her car in. Stuff seems to multiply to occupy every nook and cranny. It is hard to throw it away. Even what looks like trash is somehow attached to memories. Every scrap of paper, baby shoe and broken toy possesses a part of my life.
The calendar is the same. Business, or “busy-ness,” expands to claim every minute. Many leave the house in the dark, stagger out to the car swigging down a last cup of coffee and maneuver onto the freeways munching a breakfast burrito. Memos, phone calls, meetings and a commute home in rush hour traffic to pick up kids and head off to practice sessions. No wonder we are exhausted.
Christians may be especially vulnerable. Richard Foster wrote, “We are trapped in a rat race, not just of acquiring money, but also of meeting family and business obligations. We pant through an endless series of appointments and duties. This problem is especially acute for those who want to do what is right. With frantic fidelity we respond to all calls to service, distressingly unable to distinguish the voice of Christ from that of human manipulators."
We need white space!
Look at Google. Someone discovered that the greatest impact is made when there is plenty of white space. Google keeps it simple. The iPod and the iPhone do the same. The iPod has one button. The iPhone has none. We need to learn how to live Google lives, with plenty of white space, space in our lives that gives us freedom. We need deliverance from crammed calendars and cluttered closets.
It takes discipline to create white space, room for flexibility and freedom, margins in which to breathe. Some have been surprised in the present economic downturn to discover a newfound freedom by scaling back, ridding themselves of clutter, finding time for family and friends.
Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break through and steal …” Jesus knew how to order life with “white space.” He took time to listen to children, to help a desperate woman who risked touching his garment, to heal a paralytic passed over by the crowd. He had time for people, and, when he died, his robe was his only possession. He never punched a time clock. He did not wear a watch. He was never rushed or in a hurry.
It is entirely possible that, with our break neck race to “get somewhere” that we might end up “nowhere.” This might be the reason Jesus said, “… you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” (Luke 10:41). When we simplify our lives with fewer “things” and build “white spaces” in our lives for others we discover life itself.