I easily become overloaded, overburdened, and go overboard with busyness. I've often thought to myself that life would be perfect if bad times had fast forward buttons and good times had pause buttons. I'd also like to clone myself to get more done and never have to sit back and wait for anything. But is that really what I want?
Wait is a tough word to deal with in today's busy world. Being too busy can distract us from the really important things in our lives—people. Do I really like being so busy that I'm worn out by noon? No. I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. If I'm really honest, I would have to admit I learn more during those calm and peaceful times when my heart, soul, and mind all unite to seek God's will than I do when I'm stretching my mind to hold more while I'm falling apart. One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and busy is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." When you have a personality like mine, it's hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.
Waiting Time Is Never Wasting Time
In this fast paced, jungle-like world we build for ourselves, we rarely have "waiting" time anymore. We expect instant gratification and instant results—at lightning fast speed! We become so engrossed in paperwork that we delete all the people work in our lives—like ministering to our small-group members. We become so busy that we can't remember the last time we took a full day off or sat at the dinner table with the family.
Life can bring about big storms and the waves will hit hard if we don't slow down. Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it's because they know we are too busy for them. That's crushing to the heart. We all need waiting time, whether or not we think we do. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, "It can wait!" and we step back and do what is really important.
I discovered this after I found myself checking my appointment book to see if I could squeeze in lunch with my 18-year-old daughter. I knew then that I had to back up and take a good look at my priorities. The world would momentarily stop if something ever happened to her, so why can't I stop when she wants me to have lunch? It's amazing how busy I allow myself to be. To actually clear my schedule for a day or two feels impossible. I feel as if everything would fall apart if I refused to answer my phone or if I said, "No, I'm sorry. I can't do that task." God puts his healing hand under my chin and assures me of one thing: he will never leave me and he wants me to trust him as he helps me clear my overloaded plate to a manageable amount.
The storm that rages inside me demands my attention by shouting, "Slow down!" If I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy. Breaking old patterns is hard, but God reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Morning by Morning New Mercies I See
I began to sing the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" as I awoke each day. I asked the Lord to help me give up a life of unbridled busyness and to show me how to achieve healthy rhythms of worshiping God, loving my family, and enjoying my work. Somehow during the course of my life, I mixed those priorities up and work became most important. But busyness was not going to win out any more. Busyness was not going to push me around till I was worn out from the struggle. I stood up tall, held my shoulders back, and smiled. I began to seize the opportunity to truly listen to God's plan for my life.
If you are in a season of fast-paced insanity, no-fun frustration, and running around like a road runner, I encourage you to seek God with all your heart and ask him to help you clear the unnecessary chaos that you have brought to your life. Sit and wait as he begins to show you the things to remove, and be ready to listen. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Do you love some of the things he might remove? Absolutely. But trust him and hang on to your faith with an iron fist as you seek to glorify the Lord with your life. Begin to say, "Use me, Lord!" not, "Why me, Lord?"
God is going to see you through and when he does, you will stand taller and bolder, and be more faithful. You'll begin to smell the roses, taste the rain, laugh more, and not miss out on the important things in life. You'll overflow with good things rather than be drained from exhaustion. You'll come out of the desert singing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and knowing that God is in control after all. It's such a relief to not have to try to control everything. And the best part is that one day, as you awaken to sunshine peering through your window, you'll feel that the joy of the Lord has returned to your life. You'll know that joy comes in the morning when you realize that busyness is not a spiritual gift.
The ultimate peacemaker said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). He releases you to run free from chaos and to break free from busyness so you can experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. So when your heart is calm, thank him. And once you've done that, go to lunch with a loved one and don't forget to turn off your phone.
—Tammy Whitehurst, a Christian speaker, is the founder of Joy for the Journey Ministries. You can read more about her at tammywhitehurst.com; copyright 2012 by Christianity Today.