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Apprenticing

Mar 14, 2022

This post is by Cheryl Gilbert.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” -Dallas Willard

Jesus was rarely in a hurry, and he was uncompromisingly present. Remember that story in Mark chapter 5, when Jairus’ daughter was dying and he begged Jesus to come save her? Along the way, a sick woman touched Jesus’ robe in hopes of being healed. Jesus was on his way to heal a dying girl - a pretty urgent situation, if you ask Jairus - but he stopped to talk with this woman. He allowed the interruption and leaned into the moment. 

What we see in this story about miracles is margin, something many of our lives are missing. We’re so busy with our demanding jobs, our kids’ activities, our graduate programs, our volunteer commitments…the list goes on. However, John Mark Comer points out in his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, that “Jesus’ schedule was full. To the brim at times. In a good way. Yet he never came off hurried (p91).

Very seldom have I read a book that I considered life-changing; The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is one of the precious few. Comer speaks truth in a way that is approachable and sprinkled with humor, and this, combined with his conversational style and practical tips, make this book both easy to read and inviting to apply. 

In the first part of his book, the author explores the problem of hurry in Western society. He examines how and why we have come to work more, sleep less, experience more stress and less joy, and generally race through our days, weeks, months, and years at such a pace that we are too distracted and rushed to grow spiritually. In doing so, we “just skim our lives instead of actually living them” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People).

Comer goes on to propose a solution. While many of us find ourselves wishing for more hours in the day, he notes that “most of us have more than enough time to work with, even in busy seasons of life. We just have to reallocate our time to “seek first the kingdom of God,” not the kingdom of entertainment” (p96). We do this by organizing our lives around what we value most; we orient our time toward the presence of God and our relationship with Jesus. Comer asks, “What does it mean to…apprentice under Jesus? It’s very simple. It means you live the way Jesus lived. You take his life teachings as your template, your model, your pattern. This means the central question of our apprenticeship to Jesus is pretty straightforward: How would Jesus live if he were me?” (p93).

Comer specifies four practices to help “unhurry” your life: Silence and solitude, Sabbath, Simplicity, and Slowing. In explaining these he identifies where we see each in the life of Jesus in scripture and provides practical suggestions on how we can apply them to our own busy lives. Throughout these chapters he reminds the reader that his ideas are not the right way to apprentice under Jesus and that “the goal is practice, not perfection” (p248).

I don’t often find myself so affected by a book that I intentionally take action in response. I am not alone in my inaction; in fact, Comer addresses this in his downloadable companion book How to Unhurry (find it at johnmarkcomer.com/howtounhurry).

If we want to enter the kingdom that Jesus opened to us, we have to also “follow” or “apprentice under him” into its reality…We’ve grown accustomed to reading a book full of ideas, setting said book into the shelf, and then moving on, without doing much of anything about it.

This is a book you’ll want to do something about. Comer has created a phenomenal launch point from which readers can find their own ways to practically and effectively “apprentice” under Jesus. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is a volume you’ll be glad you slowed down enough to read. 

 

Cheryl Gilbert is a loving wife, proud mom, cancer survivor, really loud laugher, sun-seeker, and - most important - Jesus follower, living in the Pacific Northwest. She is actively working to incorporate Silence and solitude, Sabbath, Simplicity, and Slowing into her life. When she’s not writing, you can find her taking long walks with her dog, skiing with her husband, baking with her daughter, or watching Star Wars & Marvel movies with her son.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

 

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