Archive for April, 2011

Freedom from Busyness

April 27, 2011
It seems like everyone today lives extremely busy lives.  I once read a quote that 
said, “Many of us are so busy that if God wanted to speak to us, He would have to 
leave a message on our answering machine.”  As Christians, we often talk about 
“running our race,” but I do not think that God meant for us to run our race at 100 
miles an hour.  We get so caught up and become entangled in all of the things we 
feel like we need to do that we tend to become overly busy.

It would be unwise to think that we are best serving God by “constant activity at the 
cost of headaches and broken rest.”  The main focus of our labor should be to maintain 
unbroken communication with our Lord and Savior; then we will have entire rest, God 
abiding in us, and everything we do will not be ours, but His.

Most of us today run in the fast lane of life.  Our days are filled with school , work, or 
any number of other events and activities that keep us busy. When we try to run our 
Christian race consumed with so much busyness, it is like trying to run a marathon at 
full speed with heavy weights strapped all over our bodies.  We need to examine the 
bulky weight of constant busyness, otherwise we will have difficulty finishing our 
race.  The weights we carry are not always sin, they are just things that hinder us 
from our relationship with God - even to the point of taking place of Him. 

Our ultimate goal needs to be to run our race in a way that will win the prize God 
already has picked out for us.  Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal to 
win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Paul, an 
apostle of Jesus Christ who is arguably the most influential Christian of the early 
Church and wrote no less than thirteen books of the Biblical New Testament, says 
nothing here about finishing first or accomplishing more than everyone else.  In this 
passage, Paul is keeping his “eyes on the prize.”  Everything he is doing is for God.  
Paul also says in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of 
God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not 
be a servant of Christ.”  It is human nature to want to please men - to be a 
“people-pleaser.”  By doing that, we often become overly busy and are unable to be 
a servant of Christ because we simply do not have time.  Our ultimate goal needs to 
be to please our perfect Lord, not the sinful people we live around; even if what we 
are doing to please those people is a “good thing.”

In the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus said that Mary had chosen 
what was “better.”  Mary chose to sit, listen, and rest at Jesus’ feet while Martha let 
the busyness of all that she felt she needed to get done overrun her and cause her 
to not spend time with her Lord.

In order to keep our priorities straight, we need to identify what things are in our lives 
that we “treasure.”  Matthew 6:21 says,  “For where your treasure is, there your 
heart will be also.”  If our hearts and our priorities lay with material things or earthly 
relationships, we are putting those things before God and it is slowing us down in the 
race we are running for Christ.  We are reminded of this in Colossians 3:1-3.  “Since, 
then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ 
is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly 
things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  Are our hearts set 
on things above?  A youth pastor from northern Utah once spoke at a summer camp I 
was attending and said something that really challenged me.  He said to ask ourselves 
these questions: “What is stopping me from allowing God to be first in my life?”  And, 
“Am I willing to let go of it?”  These simple questions have stuck with me and continue 
to challenge me today.  Things that stop or hinder us from putting God first can be 
anything that takes up our time.  Work, school, sports; or something less obvious like 
bitterness towards someone, worrying, or being anxious.  We can discipline our busy lives 
by making our time with God the top priority.  We need to learn that it is okay to say “no” 
in order to not become overly busy.  A really important skill for us all to remember is to pray 
for God to give us wisdom to help balance our lives.  In Colossians 1:9-12, Paul’s guidance 
for living in dependence upon the Lord is to grow in the knowledge of God and be 
strengthened with God’s power.  Doing this will produce great endurance, patience, and 
giving joyful thanks to our Father.  We need to be sensitive and walk with the Spirit so 
we can recognize the weights in our lives.  When we recognize them, we have to be 
willing to throw those other “important priorities” overboard.

1 Corinthians 3:10-13 tells us that our foundation, Jesus Christ, is already laid.  Our job 
is to build on that foundation.  Will we choose to build using gold, silver, and costly 
stones - which represent the things we do that have outcomes that stand the test of 
time last for eternity?  Or will we use wood, hay, and straw - things that are easily 
broken, damaged, rotted, or blown away?  Is what we are doing now going to matter for 
eternity?  The Bible promises that our work will be shown for what it is, because the Day 
(with a capitol “D”) will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test 
the quality of each person’s work.  The Bible clearly tells us what we should be putting 
our efforts into.  1 Corinthians 15:58.  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let 
nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you 
know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Someone observed that Jesus was never in a hurry.  His life emphasizes the importance 
of taking time to be with His Father.  Jesus often went to places by himself to pray and 
spend time with God (Luke 5:15-16).  I think that the reason He did this was to set an 
example for us.  If Jesus, who is God Himself, places so much importance on time spent 
alone with God, then we should most definitely make that a priority in our lives as well.  
God tells us to rest in Him.  How can we rest if we are always running to keep up the 
pace of our busy schedules?  We need not only physical rest, which is important, but we 
also need inner rest - the peace and refreshment that only comes from the Lord.  God’s 
rest can be ours if we will abide in Him and stay active in His business and not our 
busyness.  The main goal of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we 
maintain with our Lord.

Author Charles E. Hummel said, “When we stop to evaluate, we realize that our dilemma 
goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically the problem of priorities. … We sense 
uneasily that we may have failed to do the important. The winds of other people’s 
demands have driven us onto a reef of frustration.  We confess, quite apart from our 
sins, ‘We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done 
those things which we ought not to have done.’”

A big “red flag” that we are too busy is when we are not spending enough time, or we are 
too tired to spend real, personal time with our Savior.  Quality time with Christ does not 
happen when we half-heartedly skim through a chapter of God’s Word at  the end of our 
day after realizing that we haven’t had a chance to read our Bible yet.  Reading God’s Word 
just so we can simply say that we have done our devotions for the day is not what we 
need for having true peace in our sometimes overly-hectic lives.

God tells us in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and 
I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble 
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  
God WANTS to give us rest in Him, all we have to do is come.  If we are too busy to come 
to Him, then we are not making God our number one priority and we are going to be running 
ragged - guaranteed.

God is very clear in telling us that it is better to have a little of His rest than a whole lot of 
all the busyness that the world has to offer.  Ecclesiastes 4:6 simply states, “Better one 
handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”  Freedom 
from busyness comes from making Jesus Christ not only a priority, but the priority of our 
entire life.  When we spend time with Him every day, we will find rest in Him and grow closer 
to Him.  When we seek His guidance in our lives, we will be less busy with the things in our 
life that do not matter for eternity.  We will find that when we put Him first, we still have time 
for everything else.  There is an object lesson that I have seen done many times that perfectly 
illustrates this:

A clear glass that represents our individual lives.  Filling up about three-quarters of the glass 
with sand represents all of the stuff that we do that make us busy; family, friends, work, 
school, sports, music, obligations, volunteer work, other things you have committed to doing, 
and so on - all “good” things to do, but all take up time.  We tend to put these things first in 
our day and in our lives, leaving only a little room to spend time with our Lord.  There is also 
an identical glass filled with rocks that you also try to squeeze in to your “life.”  These rocks 
represent the Rock - Jesus Christ.  Every rock you put in represents the time you spend with 
your Maker - prayer time, reading your Bible, going to church, and so on.  As you try to 
squeeze all of the rocks into the glass that represents your life, you quickly realize that there 
is no way to get all the rocks in on top of the sand.  Our life is going to overflow and become 
a mess.  The sand - our busyness - has taken up too much room in our lives and we no longer 
have time for Jesus because we put our other priorities first.  The amazing part of this object 
lesson comes next.  You empty your “life” and fill it first to the very top with the rocks, 
putting Jesus first, and then put in the sand, the things that fill our daily schedules, in.  
Miraculously, everything fits!  Even though it is the same amount of sand and rocks that you 
tried to fit into the glass the first time, when you switch the order and put the rocks in before 
the sand, everything fits perfectly.  This beautifully illustrates the way our lives work as well.  
When we put our time with God first and fill up on Him, everything else that we still need to 
get done during the day still gets accomplished.  In my own experience, when I fill up on God 
first, I often get even more done than I normally would otherwise.  It is impossible for us to get 
everything done and then have time for God.  But when we put God first and then do everything 
else that we know we have to get done in the day, we get the time we need with God that 
allows us to be at rest from our busyness in Him.  Everything else still gets done, and there is 
often even a little room left over.  We are not “spilling over” in busyness because God was first 
on our priority list over all the other earthly things.  God will take care of our time needs when we 
put Him ahead of our own schedules and agendas.  Our time with God should be number one, and 
even after that, all the other things we do should be for God and with God in mind.  Colossians 
3:17, 23.  “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as 
working for the Lord, not for men.”

Once we identify what it is that is keeping us from making God our first priority, we can let go of 
it…as long as we are willing.  In Christ alone, we can be freed from busyness and have rest in Him.  
We can run our race without all the weight of our worldly priorities that so often get in our way.  
What is it that is keeping you from making God first in your life - as He should be?  Are you willing 
to let go of it in order to get your priorities straight and have Jesus Christ first in your life and have 
God’s freedom from busyness?   

Hugs and Prayers,
Kendra Allison
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