The Illusion of Productivity, Augustine & Fasting

Busyness is often confused with productivity. And I have been busy lately. Like traveling and conversing and editing.

To what level of productivity, I’m not sure. But I know that especially in such seasons perhaps one of the most valuable practices is to slow down, step back and just be for a bit.
Lord knows I’ve kept my mind active with work, conversations, technology, even reading. But how much am I engaging these mental capacities? Am I stretching and learning and growing my mind, body, and soul in a purposeful direction? Life is a long journey, through which I want to know God, to follow him in what he says is the best possible life, through unexplainable confusion, unwarranted happiness, and everything in between. I get the sense that the main thing he wants us to get is that the value is in the journey, not necessarily the destination. I get the impression he has a little fatherly frustration when we forget just to enjoy parts of the journey and enjoy it mostly because he is our company along the way.
Augustine of Hippo
“You are present, liberating us from miserable errors, and you put us on your way, bringing comfort and saying, ‘Run, I will carry you, and I will see you through to the end.’”
I like that.
I also like what God’s Spirit wrote through the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago; the practice of fasting is about more than just the act of restraining one’s self from a particular facet or item of life in order to more fully appreciate the fullness of God.
Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself
…Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord?
Isn’t the fast I choose
To break the chains of wickedness,
To untie the ropes of the yoke,
To set the oppressed free,
And to tear off every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
To bring the poor and homeless into your house,
To clothe the naked when you see him,
And not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
…At that time, when you call the Lord will answer
…The Lord will always lead you,
Satisfy you in a parched land,
And strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
And like a spring whose waters never run dry.
I think I like it because the act of restraint isn’t the focus of fasting, but rather the imitation of God’s heart for justice, for truth and righteousness and peace and grace extended to those who perhaps are the most difficult to extend it to.  God, help me cultivate that heart. God, help me learn sharing and providing and standing for justice and mercy.

Maybe if I take this seriously I would taste more clearly the refreshment of productive life in the way of Jesus, who leads and satisfies and strengthens and endures.


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