Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Busyness of Life

Do you ever find yourself rushing around in life? Sometimes I run around like a mad woman, in order to check things off my “list”. I have a pretty big list, with plenty of things I want to do on a daily basis- study, exercise, get 8 hours of sleep, catch up with old friends, invest in new ones, and ever so often watch a tv show to unwind. Recently I have even placed an emphasis on quiet times, daily devotionals, and reading the bible. All of these activities do make me a better person and help me achieve my goals, in turn making me feel accomplished. But I have started to wonder whether all of my “accomplishments” are really as great as I think they are. 

I find myself being the typical Martha (from the Mary and Martha story) most days of the week. I feel constrained by the daily list of chores that I have to do. These chores are completely self-imposed and yet I find myself getting overwhelmed with everything I have to do on a daily basis. Maybe it’s just this situation, I think to myself. Maybe one day when I am a so-called grown-up I will have time for the things that REALLY matter in life.

But what about now? I make declarations to do big, grandioso things. On the days that I accomplish my goals I feel like a million bucks. On the days that I don’t, I feel like I have to wake up tomorrow and make up for what I didn’t do the day before. A classic example of this is with my bible studies and devotionals. I say I am going to read a certain amount a day, and do my quiet time daily. And then life happens. And I get behind one day, and then the next day I am frantically playing catch-up and overcompensating for what I missed the day before. And all along it’s like a big rush. And I feel like I let God down, because I didn’t get to spend the right amount of time with Him. I didn’t get to check anything off MY list.

I wonder if God thinks about things the way we do? I don’t think he sits and watches from afar, like a beauty pageant judge, checking our qualifications off the list. I don’t even know if he HAS a list for us. Because after all, I know that he knows how handicapped we are on a daily basis. He didn’t make us robots (somedays I wish I was…. Autopilot- HERE I COME!) He gave us human minds, susceptible to emotions, distractions, and feelings. He knows we can’t do it all.

And as I’m writing this, I am asking God “But God, you want me to be my best, and to  give my best, so isn’t that done by showing you that I am disciplined?” You see, part of me, in my mind, thinks that if I do all of these things the right way, I will glorify God. A soft voice from God gently replies, throw your list out the window. Throw away your check list, throw away your chores, throw away your earthly accomplishments. And a loud voice from me replies back to God, “NO WAY!” And then I feel convicted. The world has told me that checking things off a list, succeeding in school and in a job, and being an accomplished person is what is going to bring glory to God. But God tells me something differently.

God tells me to judge my life on a different standard, and that is his standard. And it doesn’t always add up perfectly. I mean God sending his only perfect son on a cross to die for MY sins doesn’t “add up”. Neither does Jesus walking on water or turning a few loaves and fish into a meal for thousands. And we sit on earth, trying to get things to add up. Trying to get A+B=C.  Trying to check things off the list so that we can feel accomplished. If I try to keep up with my list, I will always be in a rat race. Racing for a prize and accomplishments that are not eternal.

Read the Mary and Martha story from Luke 10. It super quick but it has a ton of insight.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It’s like Martha is exactly like me! She is distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. In other words, she is busy checking things off her list. Maybe in today’s world, she would be trying to do it all exactly like me. She is trying to prepare for Jesus at her house so of course, she has to go get the best food, and deep clean the house. And she wants to look nice so she has to get new clothes. That was her “work” for the day. And some scholars are even arguing that part of Martha’s task was to be a good Christian leader, and good influence so I’m sure she is praying and focusing on her ministry. And all along Mary was worshipping at Jesus’ feet, spending quality time loving him.

Martha cries out to Jesus and says  “Don’t you care Jesus? I am doing everything that is right. I am being productive, while Mary just sits there!” And Jesus soothed her by saying that only one thing is needed. And I would argue to say that is love.

I Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

I get the feeling that God says “Lindsay you can run around like a frantic person, checking things off your list all day. And I guarantee you, you will not get it all done everyday. It is almost physically impossible to do it all. You can have the best intentions. Even if you did get it all done, it doesn’t mean anything without love. “
I am taken aback, because I thought that meeting goals, and being successful and smart meant something. The only person it means something to is me. The only serving I am doing- is self-serving. As I hide behind worldly accomplishments, I am reminded that they will all fade away. And as person with type A tendencies, that makes me feel uncomfortable. Because who am I am really without these worldly trophies? Who am I without a Baylor education? Who am I outside my new great job? Who am I without my to do lists? Is it a person that God wants to me to be? Am I taking the time to be available for God so that he can use ME, without all the fluff? Because that’s how God wants me. Cooked up, rare done, with a side of lovin’. 

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

My challenge for this week:  I will let love be the focus of my life, instead of my list. Whenever an opportunity comes to love, I will, even if it means I have to give up something. I will love God with all my heart, mind, and soul. I will rest in the confidence, that in him all things are made and held together, including all of the details of my life. I don’t have to work so hard on checking things off my list and instead I will focus on building an eternal list of things that are pleasing to God.

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