Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
School started back for my boys last year like a whirlwind; we were racing around town and struggling to find time to actually complete homework—or even a full meal. I actually enjoy solving the logistical issues of this kind of craziness. It’s fun for me to plan and time things to all come together like a perfect little puzzle. So naturally, I had things all planned out. This party-of-five was operating like a well-oiled machine.
In our culture, the busier we are and the more money we’re spending, the more we appear to have our share of the “American Dream.” And isn’t that what we’re all after anyway? <Please note the sarcasm here!> But seriously–there’s a thrill when we are checking things off the to-do list. We have that amazing sense of accomplishment when we do stuff. Society tells us that kids should be in plenty of activities year-round, we should volunteer as often as possible, we should spend more money than we make, and we should always have lots of meetings and places to go. In fact, don’t we sort of rave over those people who seem to be in “a million places at once” or those moms who appear to “have it all together?” We feel important when we are needed and when we’re able to keep up with our busyness! And oh, doesn’t it feel good? We thrive on this sense of urgency and excessive planning and doing. We are just so—busy!
But one day I failed at being busy—I realized I couldn’t quite keep going at this pace. And just as there was no stopping this daily cycle of busyness—there was no stopping this anxiety and panic that came over me like a crashing wave, crushing my lungs. It came fast and without warning. I was suddenly immobilized in the middle of my madness. I shoved the casserole in the oven and landed on my knees on the kitchen floor.
My mind was whirling. My heart pumping so fast. Tears spilled from my eyes as I tried to catch my breath. The only thought I could formulate was, “I can’t do this.” A million thoughts were churning in my mind. “But I planned. But I had everything timed perfectly and it was all working just fine…we were going to make it to soccer on time and dinner would be ready when the others came home from football!” So what was happening to me?! Suddenly I was full-on sobbing—just a blubbering mess! In the midst of this chaos, I heard something so clear and profound.
“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted.”
What—who—was that?! I don’t even know how to describe that I knew it was God. I just knew. It wasn’t actually audible—more like a thought in my head. But it absolutely wasn’t my thought. Something shifted in my soul. My sweet friend, the Holy Spirit, had finally had enough of me trying to do it all on my own. I felt instantly convicted. The thing is—I did, in fact, pray for every single part of this rat race. All of it. It was exactly what I (thought I) wanted. But He had one more thing to say:
“Your wants don’t align with mine.”
Ouch. How did this all happen? How did I get to this place of total desperation? I didn’t pray for chaos…but I prayed for a lot of selfish and greedy desires, without checking to make sure my wants aligned with His. And oh, how I suddenly longed for God to teach me how to realign my priorities!
Are you living in your own version of this rat-race? Do you feel like people are expecting you to say how busy you are when they ask how you are doing? What are praying for? Do your wants align with God’s priorities or our culture’s priorities?
Our culture says you are better off if you stay busy.
Our God says you are better off if you stay close to Him.
Friends, you have a choice. Will you believe me if I say that you can have a fulfilling life without racing around like someone is always expecting something from you? Where is God on your to-do list? Is He getting shifted to the bottom because you are so busy? Give careful thought to your ways—choose to put God’s wants as your top priority. It will be a culture shock at first, but you will discover that you really can have a very fulfilling, joyful life if you will allow yourself to relax and slow down. I promise that your kids don’t actually have to be in a bunch of activities every night. They’ll be fine, and quite possibly happier, if they get to spend more time around the dinner table with you. Maybe they’ll have more time to play in the yard or be creative with forts and paper airplanes or dolls. Slow down. Choose to spend time with God before anyone, or anything else. You might finally have time to see the things He’s been trying to show you all along—when you were too busy to notice.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I love this song, Breathe, by Johnny Diaz. I feel like it fits perfectly here.