Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

When the Sun Shines

cloudsFour years ago we packed up our home of 5.5 years and moved 7 hours west. We moved away from friends we loved and family we had drawn so close to. We weren’t running from anything, but it was time to go. Our situation wasn’t dire, but our hearts were ready for a change. We weren’t leaving a place we hated, but it wasn’t what we felt called to, so our hearts ached. The 5.5 years drew us closer to family, helped Pastor get his degree, allowed me to stay in one place as I added 3 children to our family, and taught a series of great lessons. But, in 2010, we knew God had another plan for our ministry. And if you have ever had to wait upon God’s timing for His plan to fold out, you understand this ache I speak of.

 

truckMarch 24th, 2012 (after 2 years of waiting) we pulled our large truck away from the only town our kids had ever known. I didn’t make it a block from my in-laws before I was bawling my eyes out. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it was very hard to take that leap of faith when things had been so easy for 5+ years.

As we drove along, I sang, I prayed, I laughed, I cried, I worried, I encouraged myself… but I never doubted. I knew this journey was one God wanted us on. About 3 hours into our should- have-been-7-but-was-really-10ish hour drive it began to rain. The budget truck could only go 45-50mph, I had a nursing baby in my van along with 3 other excited kiddos (one being an active 2 year old), and I began to grow tired. The rain was NOT my friend that day. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of all death grips, my body sore from packing up the truck, and my mind going through all the plans and dreams I had for our future. By the time we were “almost” there, I was ready to pull over and have a melt down.

When it wasn’t storming, the drive just got boring! Pastor drove the moving truck and I drove our van with the kids. They watched movies, and I tried to occupy my time with music and my own thoughts. It reminded me of the boredom that can come in ministry when you’re in that waiting period. We knew we were actively seeking a new position, but it never kept us from serving with all our hearts at the ministry before us. However, when there is a longing in your heart for something just over the horizon, life can become boring in the wait. This isn’t always a good thing!  This boredom is something to take captive. God does not ask us to stop living as we wait. It’s a HARD thing to do, but needs to be done. Ministry DID continue on as we waited, but it was a constant battle to command our hearts to “do all things as unto the Lord” even in the waiting times.

The storms, as they got worse overhead had reminded me of where we had been. Ministry hadn’t always been nice to us. We’ve gone through betrayal from people we trusted to have our backs. We’d been treated poorly, been overlooked, undervalued, and been let down more times than we thought we could handle. The storms of ministry over the previous 12 years were bleak at times, but we never wanted to give up. We knew that God had called us, and we knew that the sun would someday shine (and really, it was sunny MOST of the time!). And just as the storm had gotten so bad that we contemplated pulling off the road and sitting for a bit, my spirit dropped. The fear of what could happen as we took on this new church in a town we do not know was getting the better of me. I was crying, frustrated at the weather, and at my own fears and I wanted to stop. But I wanted to  hurry up and get there. My excitement and fears were overtaking my thoughts. What if we failed the people of St. James? What if we really did not have what it takes to be leaders? What if they hated us? What if the church never grew and our kids were miserable? My questions were flooding in drowning out the voice of God I had been hearing for the past 9 hours! I felt completely overwhelmed, and then I looked up and the sky opened up. The clouds were dark all around, but the SON broke through. It wasn’t directly over the moving truck. It wasn’t just above the van. Instead it was a few miles up, at our exit into St. James.

In that moment, the fear slipped away. My heart calmed down and I reminded myself of who had called us. I remembered how God had worked out all the details for this position. I remembered all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. I remembered what we had already overcome with God’s leading, and I suddenly could see that the son would keep shining!

We pulled into our new home at about 7pm that night. We were met with the beautiful faces of our new church members. Life was good. Scary, but good! Unknown, but good!

Now, as we celebrate our 4 year anniversary at the church this weekend, we are living this ministry dream. Everything hasn’t been easy, but with God, it’s completely doable. Pastor is leading well. His preaching is top-notch week after week (sorry, I am supposed to be bias, but this is just a fact! haha) and our little church is growing!

I share for two reasons. 1. because I am overjoyed at how amazing God has been to us! I’m so happy that we applied to a small church in St.James, MN (I must confess… I did NOT want to move to Minnesota, but was committed to praying for the will of God. So I asked Pastor if he would not tell me where he was sending applications so that I could pray unhindered by my human biases. So I did not know what state St. James was in until we had decided to travel here for the interview.) I am forever thankful for the board and church members that took a chance on a young pastor who had no lead church experience. The faith it took for this church to take on a large family financially has proven to strengthen the church as a whole. We are so very blessed by the community and this church! 2. I share this for those friends who are still waiting for their sun to shine. Ministry isn’t the only place storms can brew. You may be living in yours right now. Keep your eyes open. God has a plan for your life. Don’t stop living in victory today because your tomorrow hasn’t come yet. God loves you TODAY. Don’t get bored and give up, don’t get discouraged and walk away. Let the clouds part and the SON shine. You, with God’s help, can do this!

 

If you are in the St. James, MN area and have not stopped by Crossroads Church in the past 4 years, give us a try! Our services are at 10a every Sunday Morning! Come celebrate with us this Sunday!
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