Somewhere around age 40 a strange shift happened. When I was younger, I literally fed on being busy. And I’m not talking about a healthy busy…you know, living with purpose – having a few places to go, some people to see, etc. No, I’m talking about insane busy – life on overdrive 24/7. And I loved it! I loved having every single moment so compressed that even Einstein would have said, “If this woman adds even 15 more seconds of activity to her day, she is going to upset the time continuum!”
I remember one day in particular. I was working for a Los Angeles radio station and I was a little late to an appointment (first time ever) so I was flying down the 5 Freeway (just a few miles over the speed limit). Well, I wasn’t exactly behind schedule – let’s just say I didn’t have an extra 30 seconds to spare. I was weaving around the “slow pokes” with amazing skill …when a thought flashed across my mind. “I am really an important person because I have an appointment! And better yet, it’s not my only appointment, I have lots of appointments which is why I’m barely going to make it to this one on time. I have really arrived – I’m busy so I’m important!”
Now of course it is fun to have purpose and commitments, etc, but I hope you can see that this attitude was a little off. And here’s the thing…I really believed it.
Well, again, somewhere around 40 this vague cloud of exhaustion started following me everywhere I went as I sped around on overdrive. I still believed that being busy meant I had value, but the crazy pace was beginning to wear on me. After a few years, I still kept up my workday pace, but I started to find myself withdrawing at nights and on weekends. At first it was just one night a week, but it slowly grew to the point I almost resented having to make any social plans at all…didn’t want to be pinned in. What if when that scheduled time came around I didn’t feel like it? Everyone wants something from me and I have nothing left to give! “I gave at the office” took on a whole new meaning.
Again, as I noted this growing behavior, I grew to like it. Ok, that’s just me – I’m maturing. But then it seemed that I couldn’t get enough time alone and away from the crowd. If I had too many social activities on a weekend I would find my anxiety rise exponentially – which also would guarantee a very short fuse the entire next week. I became aware of how much time I needed to “recoup” from all the workday “performing” and all that I thought others demanded of me.
Well, I’m not a total recluse today, and don’t get me wrong – I know I need my friends probably more than they need me. But I do still find myself needing to retreat and give myself plenty of unstructured “down time.” When I don’t, all the activity becomes completely meaningless…even depressing. I was enjoying some of this precious alone time rattling around in the garden a few Saturdays ago. Then I remembered a social event I had committed to. Agh! I watched myself instantly begin brainstorming ways to get out of it, and of course, the internal angst level started rising.
That’s when I thought of Him. How did Jesus handle it? How could He stand all those crowds, people pressing in on every side, following Him everywhere, trying to catch Him in His words – with not a second to Himself? How did He do it!?
Well, first of all, He snuck off regularly to be alone and talk with the Father. But often His compassion for the overwheming needs of the crowds caused Him to postpone His solitude and keep going. But how did He do it? Sometimes I feel that I just can’t handle another detour, another glitch, another interruption!
Why did He push Himself? I mean, He already had the great networking thing of the 12 apostles going. Couldn’t they just pass along His teachings? Endless lines of people that wanted something from Him! Ugh! How could He stand it?
But then it hit me – He pushed Himself, He kept moving to the next town, and the next town and ketp healing, kept teaching… Why? I think He pushed Himself because in each incident He had someone’s face on His mind – someone waiting in the next town who needed to hear about the love of the Father…and He had to get there. He had appointments! Oh, they didn’t think they had appointments. No, they didn’t know, but He did. I think Jesus had individuals’ faces on His mind and on His heart. He knew their hurts and confusions, their hopes, their disillusionments.
He not only knew the people who would be changed forever with a word, or even a glance, but He knew exactly where each would notice Him and what would catch their eye or ear. Yes, these people were usually in crowds, but they were individuals to Him…individuals that He loved.
I wonder if He would have walked all night to meet with me? Well, the Bible tells me that He did more than that – He died for me.
So how can we follow Jesus’ example and have an ongoing reserve to help us balance out difficult people, ongoing pressures and crazy schedules? By spending time with Him. “But I’m so busy already!” you say. Yes, I understand…I am too. But I promie you that the 15 minutes you spend with God will make the rest of your 23.75 hours flow much more smoothly! He will literally go before you, like a linebacker – knocking pesky time and energy tacklers out of your way. Remember what He did with the few fish and loaves of bread? He can do the same wth your time and your life.
Learning the discipline of setting time aside daily for uninterrupted communion with God Almighty was difficult for me. Like dieting or quitting cigarettes, I started and failed many many times. But the pain and longing in my heart to not be a “performance” saint only, but to develop a real relationship with God drove me to keep trying.
Oh, I’m not perfect now. I still go through times when I just don’t think I can stand another moment with so-in-so at the job, or another church event, or… (you fill in the blank). But He has taught me that I can trust Him to redeem my investment of time for Him. And more than that – when I ask Him, He shows me what He sees in those difficult people, and what I still don’t “get” I just surrender to Him. God help us all to walk in the Spirit and see the world and all his precious masterpieces (humans, that is) through His eyes. But you can’t do it on the fly. Give Him time to speak to you daily.
Remember, resetting your schedule and priorities for God can seem difficult. But difficult is not impossible…and in this case – so worth it!
Also see Seeking God, Laziness, Success, Peace, Trusting God, Money, How to succeed in tough economic times