The older that I become, the more I'm beginning to understand that the things which are really important in my life are often hidden inside a schedule that blurs the lines between relevant moments and rehearsed busyness. There will always be 'busy.' Busy is a fact of life that seems to be inescapable. We have responsibilities to an employer, family and friends, upkeep of our homes, children's sports, school, church events, grocery shopping, mowing grass...and the list goes on and on...almost indefinitely.
We schedule things into our life because we deem them to have worth and importance. We run from event to event trying to satisfy the demands that are listed 'in ink' within the pages of our over-scheduled agendas for the day...hoping to catch up in time to rest for a brief moment before we start the same hectic process again tomorrow.
Often, we use the busyness of our schedules to validate our own importance. If we're busy, then we must be important, in demand, and relevant. We think that busy people are achievers, they're motivated, they're important, and they have to be smart because their schedule is so full...right? Wrong.
For years, decades even, my life was dictated by a calendar book of appointments that were often scheduled months in advance. I took great pride in my ability to plan my schedule in a fashion that squeezed the most out of every second of the day. I owned a successful business, and the schedule that I created for the purpose of 'feeding' that business ruled my life. If it wasn't on my calendar, then it wasn't important. The problem was that I had way too much on my calendar, and not all of it was important. I found myself failing at prioritizing my life, missing out on moments of relevance, because of my schedule of rehearsed and habitual busyness.
For anyone who knows me, I hope it's obvious that I love Jesus? My greatest call is that of being a follower of Christ, a disciple of the living God. He has freely given to me everything, in spite of my "way less than tolerable" lack of merit. He is my Savior, and I am His child. It is in the finished work of Jesus that I find hope, and it is only in keeping my focus on Him that I now find a greater degree of clarity in my priorities.
To me, the things of God are the things of importance. I would love to say that I always put God first, but I cannot honestly equate myself with having that degree of perfect righteousness concerning my own decisions. I misappropriate God's place in my life frequently, but, nonetheless, I strive to firmly establish Him as the priority and the goal.
In our lives, our walk with eternal God should certainly be the priority, but that walk is not always elevated through packed schedules. Packed schedules can actually inhibit our walk with Jesus, because our 'walk' with Christ is not grounded in 'calendar activity'...it is grounded in the development of a close relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord. Our walk with God begins and ends in our communication with Him through the Holy Spirt, His Word and through prayer. This is how we come to know our Lord. This is where we learn His heart and His will, and it is in this relationship where we will receive the directions for our physical service.
My pastor stated today that... "if you have never said 'no' to being involved in a church ministry, then you may not know Jesus." I agree with his point, and his point is simply this: if we always say 'yes' because we feel that it is our duty to serve whenever asked, then we are not really seeking God's guidance in planning the things that could possibly detract from our time with Him. Satan can use church activity against you, your schedule/time and your relationship with God. If you don't believe me, then start paying attention to some of the grumpy, burned-out, fed-up, cranky workers at a church near you. Many are 'doers' who are well-intentioned and devoted to staffing the ministries of their church. They have great hearts to serve, but they have been so busy for so long that they are simply tired, and their joy is drained. Drained joy is a definitive sign of a lethargic relationship with our Lord. Busy Christians are often more concerned with growing a particular ministry than with growing their individual walk with God. It happens frequently, and it's never on purpose. In this situation, the Christian, the ministry, the church, and the Kingdom of God all suffer.
If Satan can convince you to serve the ministries of the church without serving God, then he doesn't care about your church involvement. In that scenario, you're just a busy Christian trying to plug the leaky-holes in the dam. You're tired, worn-down, and your walk with Christ has surrendered to a schedule. Your availability to God is consumed with busy-work. Satan is pleased.
Here's my point...
Our availability to Almighty God is a direct reflection of how we prioritize our life. The first step of our growth in Christ is communication with Him. This step is taken through prayer and reading God's Word...a step where we should be discipled by the Holy Spirit of God. If we are not available to God here, then it is impossible for us to really be available to the service of God through any other aspect of our life. If we don't make ourselves available to talk with God, then our walk with God will be on of rehearsed busyness...irrelevant, tired and devoid of passion. I've been there.
An intimate relationship with God is either important to you or it's not. Making time to interact with God through prayer and reading His Word is by far the most important aspect in the life of a Christian. It is in this availability to God that we find our purpose within His will. And, it is this availability to God where true service arises. We have enough 'busy Christians' in the world today, but we have too few passionate disciples of Christ.
True service stems from real discipleship, and real discipleship is forged in relevant relationship...relationship that requires availability. Put your list of priorities on the back-burner, and make time to become available to real, relevant relationship with God. When that happens, our priorities change, our calendars change, our our life changes.
Do you have time for God? He's available...are you?
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!