Today as I spent a blissful Saturday morning sipping chai and catching up on podcasts by Ransomed Heart, I ran into one titled "Distraction." And it felt like I literally ran into it - BAM! They nailed me with questions like the ones posed above.How much of your life is predetermined by lists, and how often do you go to God and ask "Lord, today what would you have me do?" Even if all of the stuff in our life is "good stuff," how often do we ask God if He wants us involved in something?
In fact, just yesterday I was pondering this very issue when I found myself overcommitted and overwhelmed. Yes, I was doing all good things, but I was filled with dread, worry, and self-loathing because I had lacked the courage to say no. And I certainly did not consider how God would have me invest my time and attention.
I know I am not alone. I mean, how often do we say yes because it is seems like the "right thing" to do (i.e. "Yes, I'll be the room mom...I will sew those costumes...I will chaperone the youth trip). How often do we add and add and add to our To-Do list until it outnumbers the hours in the day? How often do we consider others (and their opinions of us) when we commit rather than considering God (and how and where He calls us to invest our time, gifts, and heart)?
Also, how indulgent does a little downtime feel? Time sipping a cup of coffee without catching up on e-mails...taking a walk without pushing yourself for calorie burn...listening to music without folding laundry...driving down the road without returning phone calls...reading a book simply for the pleasure of it. Do we ever consider what our heart needs and how saying "no" to other things opens up space for us to say "yes" to God?
John Eldredge and Craig McConnell, who were speaking on this podcast, discuss this compulsion we have toward busyness. They explain, "Busyness can make you feel important...however, it is the substitute for meaning. It does not equal fruitfulness, meaning, or significance."
What's the answer in a time when the Spirit of the Age seems to be busyness? John and Craig offer this insight: "The core issue is walking with God. Learn to pause and ask God, 'Lord, what do you want me to do?'" The devotional book I am following for Lent develops this idea:
Talk with Me about every aspect of your day...Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day. Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment. He will keep you close to Me. (40 Days With Jesus by Sarah Young)The core issue here isn't what we accomplish or fail to accomplish (whether that means chores, work, volunteering, or ministry). It's the issue of abiding. Abiding in Christ. Walking with God. Listening for His voice, and walking in obedience. From there, we can give from a cup that overflows...not from an empty vessel cracked and drained.