While considering the issue of stopping the misfires of my brain when I’m trying to read God’s Word or enter His presence, God brought to mind several interactions I’ve had with children and young adults over the past few years. I’d like to share them with you.

From the Mouths of Babes…
One young friend came up to me recently and stood looking at me expectantly. When I asked how she was doing, she launched into a long, animated (in my mind, anxiety-producing) discourse about how busy she was. She didn’t say anything wrong, per se, but remembering the conversation hits me like a slap in the face. As I re-hear her words and remember her demeanor I realize that she was reciting her crowded schedule (which included being too busy for breakfast) to impress me and win my approval.

She is not alone. God brought to my mind other interactions in which teens have recited their busy schedules in an attempt to seem more grown-up or to impress the adults in the room. In each case, the things they were doing were good things, but what has come clearly into focus for me is the very high value that has been placed on having a busy schedule, rather than placing the high value on the activities themselves or even lack of activities so that we can spend more time face to face with the eternal God.

…Come the Values of the Adults
Children learn to value what the adults around them value. Our children are learning that busy-ness carries a high value. I wonder if they also see that quietness is a high value. I wonder if they see that sitting at the feet of God is a high value. I think in many cases they do not, because they see the adults around them willing to overload their schedules and adjust their time with God to do any of a number of things, most of which do not rise to the level of interrupting our time with God.

As I recall these conversations, I’m convicted about the part I’ve played in reinforcing the value of a busy schedule for these young followers of God. I’ve reinforced it by the way I’ve responded to them and by the example that I’ve set. I’ve communicated that having a busy schedule carries a high value. Perhaps more to the point, I’m convicted about what my over-busy schedule says about me.

What Does Your Over-Busy Schedule Say About You?
Our over-busy schedules may say a variety of things about us:

  • We need to be busy and involved in many things to feel important.
  • We need to fill every moment of every day so that we don’t have time to deal with the hurt that’s inside.
  • We don’t know how to identify those things God has called us to so we jump into everything without first attempting to discern how God wants us to spend our time.
  • We know what God has called us to, but we don’t know how to say “no” to those things He hasn’t put on our plate.
  • We have a large appetite for activity – we enjoy many things – but we haven’t disciplined ourselves to make only the best choices.
  • We are unwilling to trust the results to anyone else, including God.

The list surely isn’t comprehensive, but I get stuck on that last one.

Is God All Sufficient or Isn’t He?
An over-busy schedule sometimes denies the sufficiency of God. Too often I realize that my schedule becomes over-busy because I feel like I have to do it all myself. If I don’t do this, who will? If I don’t work on Sunday, who will put food on the table or how will everything else get done? If I don’t plan this church event, who will? If I don’t take the kids to this ball game, how will they get there? The answers may very well be:

  • God will provide it or maybe I need to do with less food, things, or activities!
  • Someone will step up or the event won’t take place (and that’s OK)! (If no one wants to plan the event, perhaps it’s just another activity that increases our over-busy schedules instead of bringing us closer to the peace of God.)
  • Another child’s mom or dad will take the kids to the event or maybe they shouldn’t go! (We begin teaching our children about wise schedule choices when we choose wisely between activities, not attend all events.)

I like most of the things in my schedule. They are there because they have value. But sometimes the value of God is eclipsed by the clutter in my life. And when my highest value is blocked by the clutter, my life gets scrambled and the misfires in my brain increase exponentially.

God Has a Solution
God woke me up early one day last week while and I found myself with a whole extra hour and a half before I had to leave the house. I spent it with Him. It changed the course of my day. I confess that when I got out of bed, I was afraid that getting up so early would cause me to collapse before the day was over, but I consciously trusted God to carry me through the day. I was fine all day. God is speaking to me and demonstrating to me the value of an uncluttered life. It allows me to REST in His sufficiency. It allows me to walk in peace through stressful situations because the responsibility isn’t really on my shoulders.

I’m certain this is the beginning of many blogs about de-cluttering our lives and trusting God with what we can’t do –because we can’t do it all and still keep an uncluttered life. Peace eludes us when we rush franticly from one activity to the next. At least it eludes me. You can’t chase after peace, you must wait for it.

I invite you to join me in this journey toward God’s peace. I’m not sure where it’s leading, but I know that God has grace to carry us through.

And an Assignment
De-clutter assignment for this week: Pick a day during which you will purposefully set aside everything that screams to be done and everything else that you want to do, and sit before the Lord for longer than you would typically spend in devotions. Be sure it’s a place and time that is quiet. Trust God to handle all that needs to be done while you rest with Him for awhile. Read a little more Scripture than you normally would. Listen to the quiet. Breathe in the quiet. Whisper prayers to God. Seek His peace. If you like, play soft worship music in the background (that puts me to sleep, so I don’t do it). Don’t come with a long prayer list. Don’t spend the whole time reading Scripture. Just rest with God. This is a time for you to be restored and refreshed by the peacefulness of God’s presence. Resist the temptation to leave God’s presence too soon. Your goal (for those goal-setters out there) is to experience the peace God can bring into a cluttered life if you push away the clutter to focus on Him.

You might not accomplish your goal! If you’re new at pushing away the clutter, it might be difficult for you to rest in quiet with the Lord. That’s OK. Try it again next week. Spiritual formation is a process. You will get better at it if you commit to it. You will begin to experience the peace God can bring and that peace will do two things:

  1. Enable you to face the cluttered life with more purpose and peace.
  2. Cause you to desire a less-cluttered life so that you can more easily find God’s peace regularly.

Those are things I want in my life. They outshine the having a brain that misfires because it’s going in too many directions at once. They come with a price – a weeding out of the clutter in our lives. Is it worth the price? You bet!

Grace & peace, friends.

2 Responses to “A Value Higher than Busy-ness”
  1. I’ve been pondering this very thing, so it probably means something that I “happened” across your blog tonight. My pastor talked about the sabbath, and that we should come to God in rest daily. I realized my life is upside-down. I’m more of a Thank-God-It’s-Monday person than TGIF. I’m a self-employed graphic designer, and weekends are when I catch up on the work that I was unable to complete during the week. I write and design the church newsletter. I go to church Sunday morning and Sunday night, and in between I supervise my kids’ homework and do laundry. Then on Monday morning I collapse from exhaustion. I know better, and I know all the reasons why I shouldn’t, and I know I need to act according to my priorities. I know what’s most important, yet over and over I find myself back in this situation. And again and again God slows me down and reminds me what’s important, like the time I was surprised to find I was pregnant with child #3, or when Mom was diagnosed with cancer, or even the smaller things — like losing a client or, these past two weeks, nursing all 3 kids through H1N1 and now being sick myself. I don’t think He causes these things to get my attention, but I know He can use ANY situation for His purposes. And tonight (or whenever you wrote this) He certainly used you to reinforce this to me. Thanks!

  2. Sandy says:

    Whew! You have your plate full! I’m also self-employed, so I understand about weekends being used for catch-up. And I agree God allows things into our lives to remind us to focus on Him. May you know God’s peace in the midst of your storms and His grace in all situations. Be blessed, Sandy

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