Hmmmm. I must need some help pulling it all together. Lately, when I open my internet browser, the advertising algorithms boldly recommend sophisticated, life-changing planners and scheduling systems. Have the gurus who create these magical methods placed a hidden camera in my home office? Are they analyzing the stacks of papers and piles of things I need to sort/do/delegate/throw away? Can they see through my webcam, even as I type, that this busy mom is wearing a t-shirt that reads “Eat. Sleep. Take Kids To Sports. Repeat.”?
Nowhere on this t-shirt do the phrases “Abide In Me” or “Be Still and Know I Am God” appear. Even in this cycle of parenting madness, my shirt does not suggest that I stop and pray or that I get into the Word as soon as I pour my first cup of coffee.
Too often, we react to the world instead of shaping our days around the discernment of what the Lord has in store for us. By numbly traveling through each day on autopilot, responding to our circumstances, we miss the joy of God’s purpose in our lives.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)
So, how do we downshift to prioritize Jesus as both our destination and our journey?
Priority One: Be obedient.
I may be alone in this, but I am reeeeeally tired of telling my nine-year-old that the Xbox comes after chores and homework. I feel like I say it every day, and, yet, I can hear the sounds of Minecraft wafting up the stairs as my gaze rests on an overflowing garbage can and stacks of recycling. Doesn’t he listen? I can nag, plead, and cajole until I’m blue in the face and still it’s a daily struggle.
If I’m this frustrated by a single willful child, how does God feel when we fail to follow His commands on how we are supposed to do life? I mean, we have the book, the app, the sermon, the sisterhood, and yet we still log into Facebook before reading the day’s devotional!
The instructions are clear. Let’s put away our excuses and start making obedience the focus of our choices.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)
Priority Two: Make room for Him.
Have you ever stopped to think about the innkeeper? Yep, the guy whose 15 minutes of fame was earned by turning away the woman who was pregnant with the Son of God? I wonder what he was thinking when he looked at her—likely in labor from the long donkey ride across the desert—and told her husband that there was no room for them at the inn for the night?
Perhaps he was frazzled and completely overrun by the wave of census-taking visitors. Maybe he was just callous. Either way, he didn’t have space for the One who had the power to save all mankind because his rooms were full of other paying customers.
Have you made room for Christ in your schedule, your heart, yourlife? Or has he been relegated to a shelf in the tool shed on the far side of your property? We are called to first give Him our very best, and the rest will follow:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Priority Three: Realize it’s not about you.
Your day is about what you can do to further the kingdom and what Christ has planned for you to do through Him. Is that what’s written in your planner for this morning? If you are shuttling kids from school to practice and back, is it about dropping them off on time or about listening for the “Mommy, I need you” moment tucked into the conversation?
If you are at work, is it about furthering you career or making a sale, or is it about giving a hand up to someone in need? Saying a kind word to a colleague who is suffering? Setting an example by modeling servant leadership?
Do the dishes to the glory of God. But, if you are seething because your husband is watching TV while you are scrubbing and rinsing—again!—perhaps youneed a change of perspective.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
The dishes will wait. Go sit at the foot of Jesus and fellowship with your brothers and sisters.
Priority Four: Be bold.
Saying “no” is hard—especially if you are a people pleaser or have a lot of interests. Perhaps you’ve heard of FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out? We pack our lives full of commitments because we can’t bear the thought of missing an event, a dinner, a party, a TV series. We have taught ourselves that our children might lose out on a college scholarship if they aren’t busy with Awana, scouts, swimming lessons, piano, and soccer—and that’s just on Thursday.
Learning to say “no” gracefully means you are creating space to say “yes” to something else. Make a list of everything that has earned your approval through your time, your energy, and your money. Then, make a list of what you truly want: Date night with your husband, a hike with your family on the weekend, to wake up and feel refreshed on Sunday morning instead of sleeping in and skipping church because you are exhausted. Are those holy appointments not happening because you have cluttered your life with much lesser things?
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5 (NIV)
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2 (NIV)
This week, take inventory of the decisions that fill your days and ask whether Jesus is the focus of each of them. If He isn’t (and be honest!), pray for discernment that He use the most menial or aggravating tasks to show you and others how to exalt His kingdom. If you are pouring something other than goodness into your hours, reevaluate. If you are filling the God-shaped hole with busywork so you don’t have to think about being sad or lost or broken, cross the busy off the list and just rest in Him. Prioritize your moments to be Christ-focused so you can find true healing.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
And, sisters, THAT would look fabulous on a t-shirt!
Sara joyfully serves as a worship leader, health coach, and government official in Juneau, Alaska. She and husband Mike are raising two zesty football players within walking distance of an ice field the size of Rhode Island. This year, they shared their yard with a mama black bear and three roly-poly cubs. Sara has 11 years in recovery and seeks daily to use her spiritual gifts to encourage others on their walk with Christ.