When I was in college I had a roommate who thrived on being busy. I remember laying around on our twin beds on each side of the room with our oh-so-cute matching green and pink bedspreads. On each wall above our beds was a cork board. On this board we would display our photos, cute little sayings and memorabilia, and my friend had a very large calendar.
Now please note – she didn’t use her calendar for her homework assignments. She used her calendar for her social engagements. I used to be amazed as I listened to her on the phone making plans with the person on the other end. Then she would get this pleased little smile on her face and neatly write the persons name in the little box on the calendar that corresponded to the day that they would be getting together. Every month I waited for that moment when she would look at me with a satisfied smile and announce that every little box was filled – her calendar was full – and her life was complete.
I was never quite sure if she got more pleasure from the fact that her calendar was full – or from the time spent with the people who were scheduled in. Maybe both, I don’t know. My friend loved to be busy. It seemed to me that being busy was something that was extremely important to her.
There seems to be a belief in our society that busyness is a virtue. Many people regard it as a badge of honor. It makes them feel like they are accomplishing something, that they are needed, important and valued. I get that.
When I retired from my job it was really strange to have a wide open calendar. No one needed me to show up for work and I would no longer be sharing my morning cup of coffee with my work buddies. Now it was just me and my coffee cup and I could stay in my jammies for as long as I wanted to. I got used to it very quickly.
In a very short while my calendar filled up with all kind of things that I hadn’t been able to enjoy during my working years. But unlike my college friend – I protect my calendar. I leave some days wide open. Early on after retiring from my job I learned the blessing of being available. I love it. Wide open days provide opportunity for spontaneity and surprises.
Mom – want to get pedi’s on Friday? Jackie – can you babysit the kids next Tuesday? Let’s eat at Yum? Want to walk tomorrow? Want to take a road trip? yes. yes. yes. All of those things – yes.
I think as believers it can sometimes be hard to live balanced lives. We spend our energies doing good things and serving- the -Lord- kind- of -things and at times its completely exhausting. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Our time is short and we have but one life to live. I don’t know about you – but I kind of like the idea of being busy storing up a few treasures in heaven. So why not knock it outta the park?
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 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!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
OK – wait. This passage is HUGE. BIG. GIGANTIC. Do you see what I see? Jesus is saying that the very most important thing to Him is to have a relationship with us. He desires that we linger at His feet and spend time in the Word so that we can get to know Him better. He desires that we have conversations through prayer. Yet – our tendency is to be busy, busy, busy – working and serving and spending time with others.
Mary was serving Jesus and all Jesus wanted was for her to leave the to-do list and forget about the dinner rolls…and just sit awhile to talk and learn at His feet.
So does that mean long jammie mornings are in order? I think yes. I think yes. .
“There is a time for everything and for everything there is a time”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Of course we should also be busy serving the Lord. But sitting at Jesus’ feet a little while longer can help us to better discern what we ought to be attending to and what we should be giving our time to.
Do you sometimes feel pressure? Anxiety? When your back is up against the wall do you become edgy? Distant? Overwhelmed? Do you ever turn into a martyr?
OK – listen up. Busyness happens. Deadlines loom – and crunch time gets crunchy. Babies cry and the house needs to be clean. Busyness can be managed as long as you are able to get some rest.
My dear busy friends, we have lost the art of rest – of being alone – of just being.
I am going to challenge you to take your calendar that is scheduled to the brim and circle some white spaces. Those white spaces are reserved just for you. I want you to take some time for yourself and get some rest. You are going to have to make it happen. Learning to rest will enable you to be more effective in the busyness of your daily life.
Here are a few ways to help you find rest and refreshment.
#1 – Sit awhile with Jesus in your jammies.
Don’t get dressed, don’t get on facebook, don’t check your emails, no TV – don’t do anything until you have done what is better. Read your Bible and study the commentaries. Journal the verse or quote that stands out to you. Spend time in prayer. If you like devotionals and could use a new one – I have just read two fabulous books – The Good Stuff, and Uninvited. Another of my all-time favorites would be enjoyed by both guys and girls – Get Wise.
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14
#2 – Do something that you’ve been wanting to do.
Spend some time being alone. Slow down – don’t move so fast. Delight in the day.
Sit on a bench and read a book. Go to a matinee movie. Go shopping or just browse around. Walk or go on a run. Paint or write. Try a new recipe. Get a massage. Listen to music. Organize your photo albums and linger over the photos.
Notice and appreciate the beauty of creation. – The fall leaves as they turn color, the coolness of the air, early morning sky, or the sun shining across the water.
Take a nap. Allow yourself to approach boredom and embrace it. Don’t even think about everything that needs to get done. It will be there tomorrow when you are back to your routine. Do whatever you wish you could be doing when you are too busy to do it.
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 8:15
#3 – Make yourself available.
It is the most wonderful thing to wake up and say, “What do you have for me today, Lord?” Make sure to leave some time for the Lord to move as He wills in your life.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21
Once you leave your white space and re-enter the world – BE PRESENT. Be present with your husband and your kids. Be present with your friends and your co-workers. Don’t get distracted. Stay relaxed. Delight in the people you love and give them your undivided attention. Take time to listen. Take time to look into their eyes. Don’t let busy come back to steal from the things that matter most.
Jesus withdrew from the crowds in order to find rest. After creating our world, the Lord God rested on the seventh day.
It’s good to slow down. It’s OK to say no. It’s necessary. It’s Biblical. And it’s wonderful.