Monday, April 11, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 9

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 9: I’m busy because otherwise things get out of control – the liberating rule of God

The lie: I can be in control

In this modern age, we tend to believe we are in control. We control nature – managing crops, healing diseases, the date of our baby’s arrival. We control our time – with planners and schedules.

The lie we fall for is that we can do everything and solve every problem, we just need to squeeze it all in. Yet,
The reality is that we are finite. Only God is infinite. Only God is truly in control. We think the solution is a course on time management. But the solution is recognizing that we are human and God is God. (p113)

The truth: the liberating rule of God

Why do some people get work so out of perspective? It could be because deep down they think that God either cannot or will not provide. Jesus warns of the same lack of faith in Luke 12, where he says the lilies do not work, yet God clothes them.
Labour is good, but labour which betrays a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide for his children is idolatrous. (p114)
Are you busy because you worry life will get out of control? Jesus says “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:25)
Constant work is the behaviour of someone who things everything depends on them. Rest is the behaviour of someone who looks to God to provide. (p115)

A note about sleep

Chester challenges the assumption in Christian circles that it is more godly to get up early to pray that it is to sleep. He rightly asserts that we want to be prayerful people and those who turn to God’s word. However, why is it that we have decided that sleep is what should be sacrificed for prayer? When you lose sleep regularly, you are tired and when you are tired, you are grumpy, irritable and less patient – in essence, more sinful. A little suggestion from Chester – if you want to pray, turn off the TV.

I found this point extremely helpful. For years I have felt I should get early up every morning to pray, and have tried it from time to time. However, I cannot sustain it and I just feel guilty. Thanks to this book, I have embraced my need for sleep, and yet still found time in the day to pray. What do you think?

Trusting God for others

Another version of I’m busy because otherwise things get out of control is this: I’m busy because people need me. However, the reality is, we cannot solve everyone’s problem, nor are we indispensable. The simple fact is – I am not the Messiah and I am not anyone’s Saviour.

We do have a responsibility to serve and love others. We are to give until there is nothing left to give. But, then we are to stop. We cannot do more than we can do. And, we must remember that conversion is God’s job. Yes, we preach the message and we do it faithfully and wholeheartedly, but salvation and judgment are God’s work.

A restful heart

The Psalm for this chapter is Psalm 127 – a meditation on a restful heart. I’ll leave you with verses 1-2:
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Things to think about:
  • My guess is that this is a prevalent reason amongst ministry wives – the feeling that ‘If I don’t do it, it won’t get done’. Do you feel this way?
  • Do you try to be other people’s saviour?
  • Do you truly believe that you are not indispensable?
  • Do you find it hard to trust that God really is in control?

Next week – Chapter 10: I’m busy because I prefer being under pressure


Jo said...

Hi there
I'm really enjoying reading this book along with you. Thanks for the work you're putting in to summarising the chapters for us.
I thought Chester's point was a good one -particularly regarding the guilt that can surround the issue of sleep. However, I wonder if rather than giving up on the idea of starting the day a bit earlier, we could think about getting to bed a bit earlier the night before. Starting the day in The Word and prayer is fantastic and works to shape the whole day. So many women I know seem to go to bed late every night, and they're not even sure what they're doing!
I agree that we shouldn't feel guilty about getting adequate sleep and that there are other times in the day when we can spend time with God. But as a mum with young kids, getting up early is absolutely the best option for me.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the comment Jo.

You do have a point, and for those that struggle to get up purely because they stay up too late, it is worth considering. We should be willing to analyse all of our day and how we spend it, and ask God whether we are using our time well.

I'm glad you have found that waking early works for you.

I think when we go to bed and when we wake affects all sorts of things. For us, in our marriage, we have made a decision to always go to bed at the same time, together. In the past that has meant that we often woke at different times, depending on who was up overnight with the kids and who needed a sleep-in more. We have realised that both of us need a reasonable amount of sleep to function, and particularly to function in a more godly way. Now, it means that we both have a decent night sleep and we have time together in bed in the mornings, without one of us having to get up straight away with a baby. It's been a wonderful change in our marriage to have time with each other in bed in the morning.

We are still committed to finding time each day to spend in God's word - for me at the moment, it's usually the middle of the day (during 'rest' time), for my husband it's usually early evening.

I guess we all have to figure out what works for us best, both depending on our physical needs (eg sleep), and our mental alertness at various times of the day, and always be willing to be challenged to change where we need to.