The masses do not see the Sirens. They do not hear songs in the air. Blind, deaf, stooping, they pull at their oars in the holds of the earth. But the more select, the captains, they harken to a Siren within them… and royally squander their lives with her.” – Nikos Kazantzakis
Have you ever heard the expression: It’s nothing but a Sirens’ Song? English dictionaries commonly define that figure of speech as:
“The enticing appeal of something that is very alluring but potentially dangerous.”
The idiom itself alludes to the Sirens of ancient Greek mythology who were often portrayed as intensely seductive sea nymphs. According to legend, the Sirens lived on a beautiful enchanted island with a deceptively dangerous coastline. Lured by their irresistible beauty, compelling music and mesmerizing voices, passing mariners would perish in shipwrecks on the hidden reefs off the perilous shores.
The lesson in the lore is simple enough: Beware the Sirens’ song; while very tempting and hard to resist, it can mislead you into going places or doing things that can lead to unforeseen consequences.
Sometimes I hear a strange kind of Siren song playing inside my own head. It seduces me with an endless stream of reasons why I should embrace the modern rat race – an exhausting, repetitive lifestyle of earthly pursuits that leaves little to no time for relaxation or enjoyment.
Lured by today’s seductive Sirens, we regularly invest inordinate amounts of our time and effort running at breakneck speeds, but at the end of the day, have we really achieved anything meaningful?
Recently, while appearing in another episode of “adventures at the airport“, I again performed this now well-rehearsed piece of traveler’s choreography:
And a 1, 2, 3…
Hurry, hurry, hurry up…
Slow down, slow down…
And… hurry up again…Now wait, and wait…
Okay, go, go, go and stop!
Belt and shoes off… Belt and shoes on…
Now run… run… run… and stop…,
Wait, wait, wait… now SIT!
Fly much? Then you know a bit about this piece of fancy footwork. Hey, it is what it is, right? So, what’s your favorite pressure cooker dance?
Anyway, there I was in the midst of the insanity called modern travel when a song playing on the background music system at the air-side caught my attention:
“Ain’t in no hurry
Be a fool now to worry
About all those things I can’t change
And the time that I borrow
Can wait till tomorrow
Cause I ain’t in no hurry
Ain’t in no hurry
Ain’t in no hurry today.”*
Laughing out loud, I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me”
Granted, there are times when the rush is impossible to avoid. It would be foolish to think we can live anxiety free. Those “slower times” often remembered with nostalgic fondness is simply not where most of us live today. This is an era when people accelerate through their lives with the pedal to the metal.
Maybe every once in a while we can take a break from doing everything faster and quicker to reflect on who we are and where we are going.” – Joe Plumeri
What concerns me though is the lack of unaffected downtime; those intervals when our human systems go offline. Before the age of overloaded schedules and the endless distractions of social media, fake news and smartphone aps, many of us enjoyed interludes when we really didn’t do anything at all. Today the very idea of real downtime sounds unproductive or lazy to some folks.
In all honesty, I accomplish so much more when my spirit and soul are allowed regular times of rest than I do when I’m endlessly running through life on fumes. What has happened to humanity that we habitually fail to listen for that still small voice deep inside of our human spirit? Call it by whatever name you like, that inner voice gives understanding and balance to our ambitions and dreams ” if we’ll learn to pause and really listen for it.
In the Bible’s older testament there is a verse penned by a man known as Isaiah. Here is what he wrote:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Basic enough ” pause, reflect, relax, wait upon the Lord, and your strength is renewed.
Isaiah was an interesting guy. He lived about 2800 years ago in a time of great change, uncertainty and disorder on the earth. It was an age filled with turmoil and fear. This divinely inspired sage spoke a message to his contemporaries that offered them great hope for a better future and a place where they could find respite for their weary souls. For the most part, Isaiah’s generation didn’t want to hear it; choosing instead a treadmill of ceaseless activity with no genuine tranquility in their greatly distressed society. Isaiah wound up despised and rejected, often enduring the contempt of an arrogant and godless population. Gee, why does that sound so familiar? Hmmm.
You see, historically, nations routinely rise and fall, but the human condition has remained predictable and consistent over time. The enemies of decency and truth are present in every age, always ready to circulate their positions. They are with us today. The atheists mock the existence of an omnipotent supreme being as just another grand delusion weighing down the progress of humanity. The scientific evolutionists put-down any belief in an intelligent designer (Creator) as foolishness. The adherents of the new postmodern theologies assert that all truth is relative (never absolute), so just believe whatever floats your boat.
On and on it goes, the chaotic cries of conflicting voices spew a kind of melded white noise that often sounds like little more than incoherent babble to the casual listener. Alas, the unknowingly dazed and confused masses are simply left to float through life stressed-out and uncertain; drawn ever nearer the perilous rocks of destruction by the songs of the Sirens.
How about you? Are you enjoying genuine tranquility, even in the midst of a world in crisis? Are you at peace, or is an undercurrent of uneasiness and fear punctuating your daily routines?
Can we talk?
We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
As many of my frequent readers already know, I follow the teachings of a great liberator called Jesus. I suppose that makes me a Christian if you are one who must attach a defining label. Somewhere along the pathway of my life’s journey, I became enlightened by this important truth: the Almighty Creator of all things is not the least bit interested in my busyness. Thankfully, I no longer measure productivity and purpose by how much activity I cram into a single day. Speaking now to all my hyper-zealous religious friends, it is amazing to me how some of you can’t see the folly in being so “stressed out” and then claiming your anxiety is a result of doing the Lord’s work. That is ridiculous.
“Oh but Brother Cerreta, you don’t understand, this is what God wants from me. We must work, work, and work while it is called today. I must burn myself out serving Jesus. Hallelujah, Amen.”
Yea… right. So, how’s that working for you? Do you know what I think our Creator really wants the most from us? He just wants US ” you and me! Reality check: busyness is NOT a spiritual gift. Rest is NOT a four letter vulgarity.
Think about it, in the Biblical picture of the creation (which is intended to help us ponder the unfathomable power of the vastly superior being we call God), our world order was established in 6 periods of “Earth-shaping” (Genesis Chapter 1), and all with just a word of his power (Hebrews 1:3, 11:3). The Great Architect deliberately engineered the surface and climate of a planet that was without form and void (Genesis 1:2) into an environment hospitable to life. Based upon these explanatory teachings, I hardly think getting things done in a well-timed manner is an issue for the Almighty, and by the way, He rested when he was finished (Genesis 2:2). What’s your excuse?
So, let me ask you, when was the last time you had some real downtime? When was the last time you walked along an empty beach alone for an hour at sunset, or sat in your favorite chair and did nothing at all? Do you even have a favorite chair?
Downtime helps us recharge our physical and mental batteries. It provides opportunities to receive new and often inspired ideas, to remember simple things so easily forgotten, and even to daydream about all the stuff we would love to do if we weren’t so busy doing all the stuff we have to do.
I quit the rat race. It’s not worth it. Consider this: when you’re dead, your dreams won’t matter anymore. That is why I regularly wait upon the Lord, as Isaiah put it. My connection to the source of all life renews my strength and motivates me as I move forward through time. What matters to me now is what matters to HIM.
Listen to this verse of truth from the Bible’s Newer Testament:
17 “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17″NLT)
Get it? Joined to the Creator we become one in spirit with Him. Living “joined to the Lord” is both a partnership and a journey. As we learn to stay focused on the things that matter most and not fall prey to the Siren’s songs, God can fulfill His purpose in and through each of us.
I would like to issue a challenge.
I challenge you to embrace the man or woman that our Creator truly intends for you to be.
I challenge you to do all the unique stuff that he has chosen to define the unique you.
I challenge you to be true to your visions and dreams, and to stop listening to the voices coming from this generally godless world claiming to know what is “right” for you! And,
I challenge you to trust the still small voice of the spirit that ever whispers to your soul. If you have followed the instructions brought to the earth by the Liberator Jesus, you are filled with the Holy Spirit of Divinity Himself. He will show you everything you need to know (including what is right for you). If you need to make changes ” He will let you know that too. And remember, His voice is calm, life giving and reassuring. Most importantly, if unfamiliar with the man called Jesus, I encourage you ” get to know Him.
So, are you up for the challenge? I hope so. Text me and let me know… just kidding.
Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.” – Oriah
By the way, that song I heard playing at the airport the other day is by the Zack Brown Band. Sitting at the gate I caught the last few lines:
“Heaven knows that I ain’t perfect
I’ve raised a little Cain
And I plan to raise a whole lot more
Before I hear those angels sing
(Gonna get right with the lord)
But there’ll be hell to pay
Still I ain’t in no hurry…
…Ain’t in no hurry today.”*
I smiled for a moment. Heaven knows I’m not perfect either. I’ve raised a bit of Cain myself, and I may slip up a time or two before this life of mine is over. But there is one thing I haven’t put off for tomorrow ” “getting right with the Lord.” Me and the maker are on good terms, of that I am sure. How about you?
Here are a few more great verses from the Bible for you to consider:
12-15 “You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”, and beware that none of you becomes deaf and blind to God through the delusive glamour of sin. For we continue to share in all that Jesus has to offer us so long as we steadily maintain until the end the trust with which we began. These words are still being said for our ears to hear: ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts in rebellion’.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)
Not everyone can hear his voice. Some never will. Is today your day?
God, there are many who are struggling to find meaning and purpose in this world. Some of my friends have heard your voice inside of their spirit today. Please help them find their way to freedom from the seductive delusion of the Sirens’ songs as they discover true freedom in the simple message of our Liberator Jesus. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656
*Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING