“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (ESV)
For years I took pride in being overly busy.
Between the needs of family, work, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule was chaotic and I was nuts, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.”
Friends would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond with a humble-brag, “I guess I’m just wired that way.”
My heart did a little pitter-patter at the recognition of my work, at their respect of my achievements. I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.
But in the quiet of my day, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that glares at me and says I haven’t done it all. I knew this truth but chose to avoid it. It was easier to find excuses and place blame because, after all, I was “really busy.”
My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all I get done; not what’s left undone. But I do.
Perhaps you know this feeling too. No matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is what you didn’t finish. That long list of to-do’s (whether it’s on paper or just rolling around in your mind) keeps you up at night.
A lot of undone work includes mundane, everyday tasks like cleaning up, making a menu for the week or paying bills.
But there’s more. There are the dreams we cannot touch. Vacations we don’t plan. Time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.
A few years ago I thought I was having a panic attack. I sat on my couch feeling a heavy weight on my chest. It was hard to breathe, and anxiety simmered, but there was no apparent threat. However, looming deadlines, a demanding home business, part-time work and mounting emails beckoned while five kids wondered, When will dinner be ready … and are there any clean socks?
My life felt out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind. The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle.
Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem.
In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle. But the satisfaction of completing a task was momentary and shallow, leaving me with a hectic life and a hollow soul.
Before I could live the less-hectic life I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork.
Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
And our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. Only too late do we realize that life steals from us what’s best … room to breathe, focus and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities.
The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s. Tasks satisfy from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. Jesus’ satisfies from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, purpose and peace.
It took a year of trimming my responsibilities before I experienced the abundant life Jesus promised. I’ve discovered that doing less actually makes me feel more significant when I’m not seeking achievements to fill my heart.
Jesus promises a less-hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.
Heavenly Father, You never assigned me to live a hectic, harried life. A life found in You isn’t characterized by checks on a list, but in an abundance of love and joy. Help me find my significance in You alone, and live a less-hectic life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 29:11, “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (ESV)
If you are missing the abundant life Jesus promised due to an overloaded life, you’ll appreciate Taming the To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer. In it, Glynnis addresses why we procrastinate on big and little tasks and how to get the best things done.
In the midst of your hectic life, is calling on the name of Jesus your first response or your backup plan? Train your heart to hear the voice of God with Proverbs 31 Ministries’ 30-day devotional, Hearing the Voice of God: A Guided Prayer Journey, and Lysa TerKeurst's Say Yes to God prayer journal bundle. Click here to get yours today for a gift of any amount.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there something you’ve been putting off, that you really should be doing? What’s the real reason you haven’t done it?
© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.