Busy, busy, busy!!! Aren’t we the busiest people ever to walk the planet since the beginning of mankind? What I mean by “we” is, anyone who wakes in the morning and checks their calendar for the day’s and week’s events. Now don’t get me wrong, being organized with the day’s tasks is orderly and good. However, I’ve personally experienced a type of stress that comes from having too much organized on my calendar; a type of slavery to the calendar ensues and the pressure that is placed on the holder of the calendar can become too much to bear.
So is having a full calendar of events wrong? There are many directions I would like to go from here, but I believe the most direct way of ordering a calendar is and should always be, priority based. What are the priorities in my day, week and ultimately, life? Where do I spend my time. To whom do I share this precious resource with?
I’d like to share that this is not a recent phenomenon to our modern day culture. In fact, there was a book (Cat’s Cradle, 1963) written by Kurt Vonnegut that creates a religion of busyness, called Bokononism to bring comfort and hope to the fictional characters living on the impoverished island of San Lorenzo, one of the poorest countries on earth. Bokononsim is centered around the idea of foma, “harmless untruths, intended to comfort simple souls.” Perhaps this concept of lying, if used correctly, can be really useful to a people or group. Is it plausible that we too have bitten, “hook, line and sinker” into the foma of our day and age? Is having a full calendar really a sign of being a successful and productive member of society? Is being part of numerous area organizations a benchmark of a well-rounded individual? Can truly being busy, be an indicator of productive and noteworthy leadership?
These questions can be answered in many ways, but again, I’d like to focus on how our time is prioritized. First and foremost, putting God first is always the best practice. Let me explain as to not sound cliche or “Christianese” by moving on to the next point. Putting God first in your day can have immense ramifications because your plans may not be God’s plans. The Message Bible eloquently explains God’s ways surpassing our ways, taken from Isaiah 55:8-11. It reads,
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
Simply put, by making God’s will first in your day, you can more effectively work towards the purpose God had originally intended; just like the intentional purpose He has for the rain and snow. It waters the earth and does not return until the task has been completed.
Is your calendar filled with events and meetings that you’ve prayed about, asked for God to align with His will or is it filled with a litany of priorities that you believe are the most important, life-changing tasks that you can accomplish within your 24 hour day? I know that I daily wrestle with what I believe is earth shattering and then I think of how God invites me into something more precious and life-changing that more than likely runs contrary to my daily agenda. So where do we go from here?
The constant that Christ brings me back to, day by day is the simple truth that I need to be other-focused. In a world that is all about improving self, buying more and better things to improve self, and glorifying self through all different types of mediums; we embrace the process of creating a false self identity; we buy the foma of our day. I have found that when I wake with the attitude of “Jesus, what do you have for me to do today?”, I tend to not get upset with my family when they wake me earlier than I intended – I am more accepting of people dropping by to tell me their life’s story, not getting mad at them because I am busy, busy, busy, and being more gracious to others in their needs because that’s how Christ is gracious to me in my needs. Jesus doesn’t say come back in an hour because I have to Skype with Tom in Boston, He simply listens, acknowledges and answers our prayers. He is gracious in His demeanor towards us. He loves people right where they are. If anyone has an excuse of being too busy, it would be God, but nowhere in Scripture do we see Jesus saying His calendar is booked up for the next couple of weeks. In fact we see one of Jesus’ greatest miracles (feeding the 5,000+ people) right on the heels of His cousin, John the Baptist being beheaded because John called out Herod Antipas in his sin. Jesus in today’s day and age, had every right to refuse to listen to or serve this large crowd of people. However, He had compassion on them as He does with us today.
So how do you order your calendar? What takes priority in the day’s 24 hour timeframe? At the end of the day, can you rest your head on your pillow and sleep peacefully, knowing that your day was in-line with God’s will? Does your day-to-day center on serving other people and helping them in their needs? Does your conscience bleed compassion in obvious ways to those around you? Or, does your calendar’s upcoming or reoccurring events bring a weight on you that causes stress and a sense of helplessness? Does it feel like your calendar is dictated by your kids’ already scheduled events? Are you trapped in the thought that thinking serving your child’s busyness is other-focused and you’re left wondering why don’t I feel like this is really serving a purpose? Could it be because your calendar and your child’s priorities are out of line with God’s will?
Meditate on these questions and continue to come back to this:
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that. You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:1-20 MSG