Busy busy busy busy
But you know what? Secretly, we sort of like it. Because being busy in our culture means we are important. As a friend of mine once said, she has to be ‘useful,’ like on Thomas the Train, because the conductor throws away engines that aren’t useful on the scrap heap.
We value our days based on how many things we’ve accomplished. Got our list checked off, it’s a good day. Couldn’t do anything at all because the baby was sick and wanted held? Not a good day. We value our days for work done, and our years, and our lives.
We become human-doings, not human-beings.
The military thrives on this principle—prove your worth by listing off what you’ve accomplished to get promoted. I’m frequently jealous of my husband’s OER. I’d like to be recognized for all my line items and have the stamp of approval—above mass!
I was at a farewell coffee recently and heard myself say to the ladies, ‘oh, you will be missed, you do so much for us!’ The words went bitter in my mouth. These ladies were friends. I wasn’t going to miss them just because now I’d have to help in the nursery and clean up after potluck. I was going to miss them because they are beautiful images of God. They were fun to be with. They cried with me over my childrens’ struggles. They prayed with me over our husbands. That’s why I was going to miss them.
We teach this to our children too. They quickly learn that to be important is to be busy. We model a life of being overwhelmed. Another friend of mine pointed out she doesn’t want her daughter thinking motherhood is stressful and miserable. Do we model that?
Tim Hansel cut to the quick in the book “When I Relax I Feel Guilty”: “Our prayer life becomes only a time to ask God to do things for us, so that we can be better workers for him. The purpose and privilege of simply ‘knowing him and enjoying him forever’ is considered unproductive. Our marriages slide quietly into what we can do for each other—the husband becoming a lawn mower and garbage remover, and the wife only keeping the house clean and the kids quiet. Children’s usefulness is unclear, and in a culture infatuated with practicality, kids begin to see themselves as worthless. Friends are recognized as opportunities, and therefore a justifiable expenditure of time. And religion becomes a pattern of rules and regulations, a system that helps us tidy up our behavior, somewhat like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…”
Perhaps it would help us to take a good hard look at why we are so busy.
—Do I need to control things? Am I not letting others help or take over because I want it done my way? Or am I afraid of failure if things aren’t done to perfection?
—Do I base my self-worth on what I can accomplish?
—Am I trying to please people?
—Am I more interested in rules than relationships? Do I help out at chapel so I don’t have to talk to people? Do I keep the house spotless, working late into the night, so I don’t have to be intimate with my husband?
Remembering His control is building His temple in your life. I frequently feel like Haggai 1:6 where there’s never enough—not enough time, not enough work, not enough harvest, not enough money—insatiable! There’s a hole in the bottom of the purse. The reason we are having so much trouble according to Haggai is that we are not building His kingdom. At that time it was a literal temple, now it is His rule in our hearts.
Day 1—Haggai 1:1-7 Tucked in amongst the minor prophets is the 2-chapters book of Haggai. When the Israelites were allowed to return from Babylon in order to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, they started on the work but then they got distracted in building up their own homes. Lord, have mercy, doesn’t that sound like us? When we should be building the kingdom, we get distracted with new curtains for our own home.
Prayerfully lay out before the Lord the areas you feel overwhelmed and like it is impossible. Repent from any wrong attitudes you see immediately.
Day 2—Haggai 1:8-11 Is God being selfish demanding they work on the temple first? All too often it takes hard times for us to remember all things come from Him. How are you changed when you remember that?
Today, Jesus calls our bodies His temple, and we are told to work on building His kingdom. How have you seen your efforts swept away recently? What part of His kingdom does He want you building?
Check out this great blog post: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/busyness-is-not-the-problem
Day 3—Haggai 1:12-15 What 2 things did the people do? What did the Lord say and do in response? When we are working in obedience, we are not working alone or in our own strength. Look at your schedule today—for which items do you need His presence and spirit?
Day 4—Haggai 2:1-9 How much time has passed since Haggai 1:1? The Israelites were getting discouraged as the task seemed too hard—it was never going to be like the old temple in their eyes. What two things did the Lord tell them to do in vs. 4? Why (vs. 4-5)? He then gives them a vision of the future with a reminder that He owns all things. What does He promise in vs. 9? Look again at your list from Day 1 and allow yourself to hope and dream. What could it look like when the Lord who owns all silver and gold—and time!— fulfills His promises?
Day 5—Psalm 127:1-2 How do these verses agree with the Haggai story? What house are you working on? What work are you doing? Are you trying to do His job? Why?
Submitted by Tonia Gutting