I’ve been fretting because I didn’t have a good idea for a post this week. It’s a super busy season at work as I’m trying to finish up everything that needs to be done by the end of the semester, and graduation is looming on the calendar. It’s been a busy singing season as we just had our Three Rivers Singers spring concert and the extra rehearsal time to match. It’s a busy family season with birthdays and Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon.
I’ve been running busily here and there, thinking that if I could only make time for actual exercise I would feel better, if I had more time I could cook healthy meals for us, if I had more time I wouldn’t be behind on my 500-words-a-day writing goal (and I’m not even that far behind!). As I drive to and from work, I think of all the things I didn’t get to. When I get home, I see the chores that still need doing. When I get to work, I see the pile of papers on my desk crying for my attention.
So this morning, I approached my quiet time with the Lord with the cry of the overburdened and the somewhat overwhelmed. And I got a pretty simple message:
The message wasn’t to take a nap or to veg out in front of the TV, but rather to truly rest in God, to rest secure in His love and His goodness. I’ve been using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer as a tool for my quiet time. (I highly recommend it!) I have been rereading the book mostly from the beginning, but today I opened it to a chapter closer to the back. The title of the chapter? “Your pressures.”
She begins each chapter with a brief note that begins “If I were your enemy” and focuses in on how Satan targets us to keep us weak, to keep us tired, and to keep us from realizing who we are when we stand in the power of the Risen Lord. This chapter sounded hugely familiar to me today:
If I were your enemy, I’d make everything seem urgent, as if it’s all yours to handle. I’d bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn’t tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not. Going and doing, guilty for ever saying no, trying to control it all, but just being controlled by it all instead…. If I could keep you busy enough, you’d be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work you’re actually saving me.
She points out a couple of pages later that the enemy’s intention is to enslave us. He’ll use any old thing to do his work — sins are an obvious first choice, but, Priscilla warns, “He can enslave you to good things too. Your job, your ministry, even your recreational hobbies–nothing is so healthy and life-giving that he can’t turn it into a cruel taskmaster, one that bosses you around and runs your life.”
I’ve been there. But there’s good news in this chapter in my favorite book. “Your Father God just wants you to be you. And that means not having to be two of you to get it all done.” Read her points:
Satan’s ploy is to make you believe your core value as a person is tied to how much work you do, how much activity you can accomplish, how much stuff you can accummulate…In order to possess any worth under this system, you’ve got to be able to rattle off everything you’ve been doing, one by one, adding it all up into a big gob of bullet points and checklists that ought to impress anyone….
As a dear friend and wise mentor recently said to me, ‘God doesn’t want something from you. He wants something for you. Your value is not in what you do (as if you could ever do enough) but in who you are (as if you could ever be more loved and accepted by Him than you already are).
The solution, of course, isn’t that we abandon all of our responsibilities and run off to live on an island. Instead, it’s that we approach our calendars and planners and to-do lists with a prayerful mindset, making sure we aren’t crowding our lives so full that we miss our real purpose.
God invites us into a personal relationship with Him. He loves us, calls us to Him, and offers us forgiveness and rest. I’m praying that I will rest in that knowledge and in His goodness and not be stressed out by or controlled by other things.
Do you struggle with busyness or an overcrowded schedule? Do you have advice on how you’ve tackled the feeling of being overwhelmed? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.