Tag Archives: busyness

Jesus Keeps Messin’ with Me!

I’ve been reading a lot lately…a dangerous endeavor for sure. It’s been messing with me. Margaret Feinberg’s Wonderstruck and Scouting the Divine challenged me to look for God in the details of life. God’s divine intervention and handiwork are all around me if only I would open my eyes and become sensitive to it. Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess has me questioning everything from what I eat to what I wear, what I watch to what I spend, and even where I spend it. I’m telling you, MESSIN’ WITH ME!

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But isn’t that what reading and writing are supposed to do? Shouldn’t my current way of thinking and acting be challenged as I gain new insights and knowledge? How else will I grow more like Christ? As I study God’s Word (and read other authors who have studied God’s Word), my heart should soften, my mind transform, and my behavior become more like Christ’s. If it doesn’t, what’s the point?

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Either I believe that what Jesus taught, and what he modeled, is really how he expects me to live or I don’t. Either I believe God’s Word is true or I don’t. Either I learn from the Israelites’ mistakes, heed God’s warnings and stay faithful or I suffer the consequences. Either I believe God is faithful to those who put their trust in Him (Daniel, Gideon, Elijah, and even Jesus) or I don’t. Either I believe God cares about the poor, the orphan, and the widow and calls me to do the same, or I turn away. Either I take “love your neighbor” seriously, or I don’t. Either I forgive others or I harbor bitterness and resentment. Either I step out in faith and risk looking a fool, or I stay in the boat, which might make sense with earthly eyes, but doesn’t allow me to walk on water.

Now those are nice things to say and easy things to think. Here’s the catch: if I actually believe they are true, then my behavior has to reflect that. I have to live life differently. And that is frightening. What if I ACTUALLY DO what the Bible says I should do? What if God really wants me to go through my closet and give away everything I don’t need – not  the “American” definition of need but “third world country” definition of need? Because let’s be honest, I don’t NEED six coats (and sadly that was just off the top of my head). And don’t even talk to me about or think about touching my shoe collection! (Read addiction.) What if God wants me to slow down instead of speed up? What if God wants me to turn off the television, or give it up completely? (GASP – as long as I can have it back before football season and fall sweeps!) What if God wants to use my natural tendency to compare as a way of making sure others have as much as I do instead of making sure I have more? What if?

And why does this all feel so scary, so crazy, and so threatening? I think it is because my identity is wrapped up in the very things God is asking me to let go of and sacrifice for Him. Let’s be honest, I’m a lot more like the rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to follow Him and then walked away dejected when Jesus said, “Give all of your possessions to the poor” than I’d like to admit. It is comfortable and safe to have a lot of stuff. It is easy to ignore the “have nots” and forget that I’m one of the “haves”. Accumulation feels so good and denying myself doesn’t seem very appealing at all! It is nice to fit in and all the stuff and all the busyness help me create an identity, albeit a false and shaky one. You see, the food we eat, the entertainment we watch, the money we spend, the conveniences of life, the stress and busyness we participate in have all become idols. We worship and define ourselves by these things.

On the other hand, choosing to live how Jesus lived makes me stand out – and not necessarily in a good way! I might get criticized for making decisions that don’t make sense to the world, but store up treasures in Heaven.  And then Jesus comes along and says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)” Jesus commands people who love him to love their enemies and to give to any one who asks (Luke 6). Anyone!? Really? Even the annoying neighbors upstairs?

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So Jesus, can’t I give to the poor and still have my vast shoe collection and keep my brand new genuine leather jacket? I don’t know the answer to that. (Actually I’m afraid I might and just don’t want to acknowledge the truth about my choices.) Jesus, can’t I just love the homeless from a distance, do I really have to actually touch them? Jesus, can’t I eat my $10.00 take out in peace, do I really have to consider those going hungry right now? I know, I’ll donate to the food pantry, that’s good enough right God? Jesus was pretty clear when He said, “That which you do unto the least of these, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40).” He’s onto all of the ways I don’t follow His lead. I’m certain it was with grief, frustration, and a mix of other emotions that He said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say (Luke 6:46)?” I’m afraid that I don’t often do what Jesus said I am to do.

I don’t know what all this means for my lifestyle and I certainly don’t know what it means for yours! I know I’m embarrassed to admit how much anxiety I feel from the thought of shutting off my cable. I’m ashamed to admit how many flips my stomach does at the thought of thinning out my shoe collection (obsession). I’m overwhelmed at the thought of actually getting close enough to care about “the least of these.” But I know what God commanded and I know it is worth wrestling with. I know that I want my identity to be found in Christ and not in the clothes I wear or the activities on my calendar. I know I want my treasures in Heaven and not in the deep recesses of the drawers and closets in my apartment. And how else will I grow if Jesus doesn’t MESS with me once in a while?

Holy Week Writer’s Block

Holy Week is here, in fact, it is nearly half over. And I’ve had writer’s block…

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Holy week is always difficult for me. It requires slowing down, careful reflection, and walking a road I’d rather not travel. One of sadness. One of suffering. I’d rather distract myself with work or important things like Facebook and Twitter. However, busyness is not conducive to the lessons found in Holy Week. Only by slowing down can we join in the walk towards Calvary. Believe me, this is a not a walk I enjoy! But it is necessary. I’d love to keep my life nice and loud, get lost in the distraction of the noise, and then join in the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday. But that leaves the story incomplete and void of its true meaning. I must slow down in order to gather at the table where Jesus offered His body and blood as a new covenant with God the Father. I must slow down in order to grasp the reality of the cross on Good Friday and I must slow down to grieve on Holy Saturday. I can’t hear God’s voice speak words of life and love through all of the noise. The celebration of Easter Sunday isn’t nearly as meaningful without the sorrow of Friday and Saturday. To truly join in the celebration, I must also join in the suffering and understand Jesus’ sacrifice. We simply can’t have one without the other. So it’s time to slow down, be quiet, eliminate distractions, listen, and observe. Holy week writer’s block may be a good thing after all…

Busyness is not a Badge of Honor

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I’ve been working too hard and I’ve been too busy lately. In fact, I’ve been so overextended that I’ve fallen asleep on the couch after work the last two days in a row. Overextending ourselves is so easy to do. Saying no to people is difficult and saying yes feels so good. Busyness has got to be one of the biggest things hindering a healthy relationship with God. When I’m busy, my relationship with God is the first thing that suffers. I don’t “have time” for Him. Think about how ridiculous that is. In my busyness, I make the decision that my trivial responsibilities are more important than spending quality time with my Maker and my Creator, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Friends and family are the second thing to suffer. And my personal health isn’t far behind.

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So if it is so bad for us, why is it so easy, so tempting, to become so busy? Because I don’t think I’m alone. I see it in the students I work with as well. I see students staying up until the wee hours of the morning because they’ve taken on too many hard classes that have too much assigned homework and they can’t bear the thought of earning less than an A. I’ve seen students refuse to give up any of the activities they are involved with even though they are pulled so hard in so many different directions that they are about to be torn to pieces. I’ve heard the rationale that if students aren’t earning all As and in all the activities they can handle then they won’t get into the college of their choosing. And I’ve heard that busyness is a good thing because it keeps students out of trouble. What lies! And yet these lies seem to have completely permeated our culture and so busyness has become the norm, a badge of honor even. Rest and relaxation seem to be viewed as lazy.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anyone should settle for mediocrity or that we should be lazy slobs. I’m suggesting that we are human beings not human doings. When God created the world He placed rhythms into the entirety of nature. Why would we be any different? Beyond that, God demonstrated the life He designed for us to live, one of both work and rest. First He worked, then He rested. He even included the  command to rest in the 10 commandments! When Moses was becoming overwhelmed at the requests of the people, God told Him that the amount of work was not good for him and that He needed to delegate some of the work to others. He told Moses to rest! Jesus modeled this for us as well. It is difficult to read the passages where Jesus tells people no, and we don’t often like to read them, but He did not heal everyone. He took time to pray. He took time to sleep.

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So why are we so obsessed with being busy? Maybe it really comes down to longing for the approval of others and fearing rejection or disappointment if we say no. Maybe we don’t know how to be bored anymore. Or maybe it’s an identity issue. If you’ve read my blog before you know I believe that most things are. Maybe we continue to try to define ourselves through what we DO instead of by who we ARE and most importantly by WHOSE we are. We forget who created us and who loves us. And we forget that God’s love for us is what gives us value and worth and identity, not the things that we do. Here’s the irony, remember those two nights I fell asleep after work? My plan for both evenings was to do more work! I guess God had different plans. “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” And He did. And the world kept turning, and His love for me stayed steadfast, even though I rested instead of worked. May you also find a rhythm to life that includes resting in the arms of Jesus.

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