Building One Another

E. Stanley Ott


August 12, 2014

Dear Friend,

“Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me. ’” Luke 10:40*  

For Martha it’s all about the to-do list. She reminds me of the White Rabbit with his giant watch running away from Alice in Wonderland crying, “I’m late I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello goodbye I’m late I’m late I’m late.” Ever feel like that? I bet you do all the time!

I like to call our over busyness, “The Law of Present Demand.” It sure was the White Rabbit’s problem! Present demand includes all of the things coming at you, demanding you right now. It's what Jim Dobson calls the “sustained panic, ” what John Ortberg calls “hurry sickness ”and what Brigid Schulte calls “time confetti” in the book Overwhelmed on being too busy to live.


The Law of Present Demand regulates our lives in three ways. The pressure of present demand moves any non-pressing item to the bottom of the list. The routine of present demand convinces us that everything we are doing is necessary. The comfort of present demand lulls us into thinking that while we complain about our busyness, we actually like it.


Some years ago the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado, Bob Oerter, led a retreat with a bunch of us all being crushed by the Law of Present Demand. He offered this amazing word,  “Learn to live with the load of the unfinished!” That has stuck with me ever since.

In a society where we have to “get all of this stuff done,” our sense of “present demand” overwhelms our priorities and easily diverts us from loving our Lord, loving ourselves, loving our neighbors. Learn to live with the load of the unfinished so that like Mary you take time for Jesus, you take time for your neighbors, you take time for yourself and those you love.

Joy to you - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2014 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV