Too busy to listen
I was attending a leadership retreat where we were asking: “Are we doing too much busy work and not enough faith work?”
If you want to be around a bunch of Type A, ultra-busy, super organized, high-octane people, you should consider hanging around this group. Yet, amidst our schedule-filled, task-driven, supercharged lives, we were dissatisfied.
Sarah Young in “Jesus Calling” writes, “Come away with Me for a while. The world, with its nonstop demands can be put on hold. Most people put Me on hold, rationalizing that someday they will find time to focus on Me. But the longer people push Me into the background of their lives, the harder it is for them to find Me.”
I was feeling the non-stop demands and I desperately needed to push them into the background and come away to a different place.
“You live among people who glorify busyness; they have made time a tyrant that controls their lives. Even those who know Me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world. They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity,” Sarah Young writes.
How could I learn to create balance that included less “work at it” time to more “faith in You” living? Without ignoring my obligations, how could I carve out more time to listen, to discern God’s will?
Too much busyness and not enough listening to the One who leads, is like your car getting stuck in the mud. You push on the accelerator and the wheels turn faster. The roar of the engine, the mud flying in all directions and the smoke rising are all signs of frantic activity, but the object of all the activity, namely your car, is going nowhere. You push the gas pedal harder, making the wheels spin even faster, creating ever more noise, flying mud and rising smoke. Yet the object of all the activity still sits there stuck in the mud, steadily going deeper and deeper into a dark hole.
Or… you could stop the frantic activity and step out of the car. After looking at the situation more calmly, you realize the need to do something different. Looking around you see a board that could be placed in front of a wheel. This allows your tire to gain needed traction. As you get back in the car, you push the accelerator again but slowly this time, easing the car forward, allowing the car to find the grip of the board and free itself from the muddy trap.
“I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover, as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.” – Sarah Young
• “I have called you to follow me…” a reminder that we are on earth not to see how busy we can be but to find God’s will for our lives and follow God wherever the path leads.
• “…making time alone with me is your highest priority and deepest joy.” When is the last time you took concentrated time to be alone with God? • “It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised.” For busy people, stopping the busyness is almost impossible. Lack of activity is interpreted as laziness. I despise laziness.
• “However, you have chosen the better thing…” Stopping the activity and stepping out of the current situation is not to be despised, it is the better thing. While stopping and listening, you discover a better way.
Are you spinning wheels, throwing up plenty of mud and smoke but essentially going nowhere? Maybe it’s time to stop, step away and make time for the God who created you, has a plan for you and is looking for an opportunity to guide and encourage you.
“Moreover as you walk close to Me, I can bless others through you.” Not only will you personally benefit from spending time with God but those who watch you, depend upon you, learn from you, lean on you, love you or even despise you will be blessed by your willingness to change, to listen and to more closely follow God’s guidance. In Luke, Martha was frantically preparing a meal for Jesus and the Disciples. Mary who was supposed to be helping her, instead sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching. At one point, Martha, frustrated and overworked, asked Jesus, “Tell her to help me.”
Jesus calmly replied, “But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:42
At the leadership retreat, the most important decision we made during our three days together was to promise to frequently stop and spend more time listening to God, whether in meetings, in our small groups or alone. Busyness is good, but not at the expense of missing out on listening to God’s voice. You could wind up trapped in a mud hole busily spinning tires, throwing up mud and creating lots of noise and smoke.
Stop. Take your foot off the accelerator. Step away and listen for God’s still quiet voice. It may be the most important decision of your life.
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at email@example.com.