How busy are you? Do you have time to answer?

I’d imagine that most of us would answer this with the word very! In fact we’d maybe even go as far as to say I haven’t got time to answer that I’m far too busy. Busy, busy, busy, doing what? Achieving what? Sometimes its difficult to tell!

I’ve used a sermon series called ‘Margin’ with our homegroup over the last few weeks and Craig Groeschel (lifechurch.tv) gives some fantastic insight into our busyness, what causes it, what impact it has, how we can get past it. This is the basis for my thoughts here as I explore the area of being busy.

How many of us particularly when it comes to God and our prayer, study and worship find that we are too busy. “I can’t fit that in today because I have to do this and that and the other” or “If I don’t make this deadline that is it”. “Must keep going!”

Or how many of us when we’re asked to do something, particularly for the church, will fill in every gap in our schedules in order to ‘get things done’ putting off study times, prayer times, time with our families and so on.

When somebody asks you to do something that seems to be a good thing to do, we begin to hear ourselves saying things like, “Oh well that’s my family day but I’ll fit it in, it’ll be ok just this once” The trouble with ‘just this once’ is that it turns into just this once again and again until eventually it stops being a family time and becomes full of other stuff. Or how about “Well I was supposed to be taking my wife out tonight but I’m sure she’ll understand just this once.” Why do we put stuff in front of those who are most important to us? We fill our time with incredible amounts of ‘good’ stuff but at the same time we neglect the best stuff! The stuff that God actually wants us to be doing, our calling, our families etc.

How many of us are doing just what we need to be doing just what God calls us to be doing?

That’s what margin is, the time we have after we have done everything we need to do! Not the stuff we think we need to do, but that which we need to do under God.

What struck me in particular was having the time to be interrupted! How often do we find when we are interrupted it is the end of the world. “Aaaargh this can’t be happening, how will I get everything done now.” Particularly poignant when it comes to our children. Do we ever catch ourselves saying, “I’ll play later I’m much too busy now” and how regularly does this line come out? Surely we should have time to be interrupted by our children, to spend time with them? What is more important, our children or the deadline?

So why does this happen, why do we get so busy? I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t want us to be so busy that we neglect our families or perish the thought our families break down, that is not what His word suggests to me. “Men, love your wife” or all the various teaching on divorce. Read song of Solomon and you immediately come across a man who doesn’t neglect his wife. Craig suggests, and I agree, that it is the culture of the world in which we live that tells us we are not successful unless we are busy. According to the world we should be doing everything we can to make as much money as we possibly can so that we have a nice house and nice things, working all the hours there are. But why bother if we don’t have the time to enjoy it, to actually spend time with those who we love, the ones we are apparently doing it all for. Look at the teaching in the Bible, the bloke who stored up his grain in his barns and built bigger barns to store more and then once he’d stored it all up he was taken and never saw the use of it. It was all a waste of time. And so much of what we do whilst maybe being a good thing to do is actually a waste of our time as it prevents from doing the best things, the God things.

We all have our own individual call from God, having recently completed the chazown course I recognise this more than ever. It is vital that we follow that call whatever it takes and don’t get distracted by the many good things we are asked to do. Never do something for the sole reason that nobody else is around to do it so it might not get done. It is better for something not to be done rather than you being dragged away from the God things you are doing. Play the part you are supposed to play not somebody else’s.

So what do we do when we’re asked to do something we shouldn’t be doing, however good it seems to be. Craig gives us some very simple advice which he learned from his wife! We say “NO” and that’s it, if we’re not supposed to be doing something we just say “NO” Its that easy! I know it is easy to say for me typing here and in practice not so easy but if we are to function properly as God would have us function we have to learn this skill. We also need to learn that actually people generally understand and are fine with it. Without doubt there will be times when people are upset by it or try to persuade you to change your mind but I guess we can’t please all the people all the time however nice that would be and our main aim should be to please God. Think about it like this. If somebody asks you to do something that you know isn’t God’s intention for you, however good it is, and they get upset when you say ‘no’ then who is it that has the problem? Interesting thought!

For me I have busy times and part of that without a doubt stems from disorganisation as well as not saying no when I should. I try to cram lots of stuff into a short amount of time and then have other times when I am reasonably relaxed and able to rest although at the back of my mind there is always the thought of all the things I still have to do. I guess I’m starting to create margin in my life. I’ve got the space for rejuvenation and spending time with God in study worship and prayer (although it has to be said I often give in to doing other things at these times and get distracted from my purpose) but I do it by making my busy times over busy by trying to do everything that people ask of me, leading me to unbelievable levels of stress. So personally my goal is to identify those areas where I am doing things that are not a part of the call on my life and begin to remove them so that I am freed up to do the stuff that I need to do whilst keeping my very important study, prayer and worship times.

As we trust God with these things and allow Him to guide our decisions we discover that it is possible to do everything He calls us to do and still have margin in our lives. So let’s get our worshipping lives in order so that we are able to discern God’s will in our lives enabling us to build margin into our day, lowering our levels of stress and meaning that we function as fully devoted disciples of Christ. My prayer is that we could all get to know God better and let Him guide the way!

Blessings

Al

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