If you were to see an old friend at Target today how would your conversation go? I'd like to take a shot at it. Would it go something like this?
"Oh, it's so good to see you! What have you been up to?"
"Well, we've been really busy.
You know how it is with three kids.
Things just never seem to settle down!"
"Oh, I do know! We've been so busy too!
I have to make a list everyday or else
I forget what I'm supposed to be doing.
We've just got so much going on!"
That sounds a lot like some of the conversations I've had with friends. And to be quite honest, if I haven't been busy, I almost feel like I need to say I have lest I look like I'm less engaged in life, less important, or less active. Do you feel that way too? Like busyness is some badge of honor, some symbol of importance, some status indicator?
What in the world? What lie have we bought into?
Jesus told busy Martha (you know the story...the one in Luke 10:38-42),
Martha, Martha, you are worried
and bothered about so many things;
but only a few things are necessary,
really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part,
which shall not be taken away from her.
According to Jesus, our Lord and Master, it is common to get caught up in the trap of being busy with many things. Not only that, but our busyness can easily become a source of pride and even contention as it did with Martha. But Jesus contends that we are better off getting involved with only a few things. He suggests that we focus on the few necessary things and quit busying ourselves with all that other stuff, especially if we're then going to gripe about how busy we are and how lazy or unhelpful someone else is.
How many times have I said something like:
Hey, we're all going to have some truly busy days. Days when things get out of control due to circumstances beyond our control. But I know for me that much of my problem with busyness stems from my inability to say "no" to the trivial, the worldly, the time-consuming, and the urgent. I neglect the important things Jesus referred to in Luke 10 because I'm dealing with some emergency. And often that emergency could have been avoided if I'd planned ahead, used my time more wisely, made a better and wiser choice, or spent time with the Lord to begin with.
- "I'm the only one who cleans up around here! It'd be nice if someone else would help out every now and then!"
- I'm just exhausted. I had so much to do today!
- You'll just have to fix yourself a bowl of cereal for supper. I was too busy doing other things today to think about dinner.
- I want to read my Bible every day and spend more time in prayer, but I just have a hard time fitting it in every day.
- One of these days I'm gong to ...(fill in the blank with all sorts of good intentions), but right now life is just too busy.
I told you our busyness and the subsequent pride it breeds is one of my pet peeves. But I also told you I have to fight this temptation myself constantly. I'm still too busy doing the frivolous, the unnecessary, the worldly, the draining. I want to stream line so I have more time and energy for the truly important, the godly.
But you know what happens? Every time I even consider cutting back on some things or withdrawing from some busy activity, I get afraid. I become fearful that others won't value me as much. Others will think I'm lazy, self-absorbed, uninvolved, you name it. It's hard to draw that line between streamlining so you can focus more on the "holy things" and yet also staying involved and engaged in the world around you. Do you find it to be so as well?
So here are a few guidelines I've come up with this morning to help with that issue:
I'd love to know how you go about staying focused on the really important things instead of being overloaded with the cares of the world. Do you find this to be an issue in your life too? I'd love to hear about it. Please, do tell!
- Begin the day with the Lord, allowing Him to order the rest of the day according to His plans for me.
- Before committing to anything long term, run it by God in prayer. Give Him the opportunity to tell me "no." And heed His direction.
- Periodically, ask God if there is anything I'm doing that just really doesn't need to be done. Give Him the opportunity to weed out that which is distracting me from the really important.
- Remember that there are "a few things", according to Jesus, that are really important. For me those need to always include my relationship with Him, my family, my devotion to His Word, and telling others about Jesus. Those are some biblical priorities that never change.
- Resist the temptation to brag about busyness. Don't wear busyness like a badge of glory. It's not. That's a deception straight from the enemy. If I quit taking pride in my busyness, perhaps I'll be more likely to stay restfully focused on that which is truly important.
Labels: priorities, Walk Through the Bible