On my upcoming podcast 5 Questions in 5 minutes, I have a fascinating conversation with Emmy Award winning writer and director Josh Wakely. I first met Josh when he was 19, and 21 years later two things remain true: he is a great storyteller and he has a deep sense of urgency. Even with his substantial accomplishments and accolades, Josh has a persistent awareness that time is ticking away.
Admittedly, urgency can often be shrouded in anxiety. Yet having a healthy sense of urgency can provide significant motivation. In my experience the difference is passion, courage, and intention. When my mindset is I have too much to do in too little time, the result is most always a feeling of being anxiously overwhelmed. On the other hand, when I am clear about my level of passion for a desired outcome, that then provides the courage to be intentional about the need for urgency.
One of the greatest passionate clarion calls to urgency was delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
King’s words about the ‘fierce urgency of now’ motivated millions to move out of their ‘apathy or complacency’ because ‘tomorrow is today’. Imagine if we intentionally brought the same level of passionate urgency to that which we were being called to. Imagine if our mindset was today, not tomorrow, is THE day for us to transition from waiting to moving forward. It takes courage to move into a posture of urgency. Yet as Dr. King demonstrated, our passions will provide the fuel for courage. As theologian John O’Donohue writes, “May we have the courage today to live the life that we would love, to postpone our dream (God’s dream) no longer, but do at last what we came here for and waste our hearts on fear no more.”
There may be no greater example of urgency than the journey of Jesus of Nazareth. One of my favorite descriptions of this urgency comes from poet Madeleine L’Engle’s “First Coming”:
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
— Madeleine L’Engle