Have you ever been in or seen a relationship where one partner treats the other like an item on a list of things to do? He only meets her when he happens to be in the vicinity. She carefully fixes him into her schedule so she forgoes nothing when she is with him. He is constantly on his phone when they are on a date. She only calls to ask him why he is late for the meet-up. He is always late doing something else but ever early when it comes to work engagements. Their dates are always tentative because she can bail to attend to something else at any moment. The list goes on and on. It’s easy to question the value that such a person places on the relationship. If you are on the receiving end, you feel taken for granted and unimportant. If you are the one dishing it out, it’s harder to see, especially when you are working to build a life for yourself (a business, a career, ministry).
Some of us treat God this way and don’t even know it. We only squeeze in some bible reading when we’re in transit. We stop by bible study when we were held up doing something and thought hanging around would be a great way to avoid traffic. We only do corporate prayer with our parents, siblings or spouses as we leave the house in the morning but don’t intentionally carve out time to pray on our own. We visit the sick and bereaved when our schedules allow it. We serve in four, five, six different ministries in church so we’re always moving from one point to another on the Sabbath. We’re constantly mass-texting scripture but never taking time to disciple or follow up in prayer and in person with people who are hurting/ grieving/ lacking/ seeking direction, etc. We’re always on calls or responding to emails on our phones so we cannot look up long enough to actually see people or to evangelize… We speak more through our t-shirts, arm bands, playlists, scripture merch and social media updates. We have books to read, destinations to travel, meetings to attend, projects to complete, money to make, houses to build, families to look after, trends to follow, social lives to nurture, concerts to sing in, ministries to plug into. Our full schedules leave dregs for God, but dregs are better than nothing at all. So we carry on with life, treating God like an item on our list; unable to bear fruit, especially fruit that lasts.
It’s Still January
The year holds a lot of hope and right now, most of our dreams and goals seem endless. There is so much that can be done in 340 days. We have new strategies and the wide-eyed enthusiasm that comes from being filled with the expectation of better days. We want to do a lot and all this is good. However, we must be watchful so we aren’t caught up in the snare of busyness. If we are followers of Christ, we are to be like Him. In John 5:19 Christ says that He can do nothing of Himself. He only does what He sees the Father do. That points to the source. If the Son drew from the Father and we are to be like the Son, then we are to draw from the Father. This can only come from true communion. As Christ show us through how often He withdrew from the people to go pray, true communion cannot thrive with distractions: neither entertainment nor activities geared towards productivity.
A few things that I’ve learnt through my missteps and God’s grace to call me out and draw me back to Himself are:
- Busyness isn’t Synonymous to Productivity
Most of us get caught up in busyness in the quest to be productive. Sadly, being busy doesn’t automatically translate into productivity. Even sadder is when we are caught up in working like Martha and end up missing out on the better thing that Mary found seated at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42)
- Where Your Treasure is
A half-hearted, give-God-what-is-left attitude exposes where our treasure lies. (Matthew 6:21) Whatever draws us away from God, whether partially or entirely, has our heart and our devotion. It can easily be referred to as an idol.
- It’s not a Trade-off
Productivity and quality time with God shouldn’t be a trade-off. In fact, this quality time should be the foundation of our productivity. After all, isn’t the goal, “Well done good and faithful servant?” If you are in service of yourself, then whose servant are you really and what reward awaits you?
My prayer is that, as the year progresses and we strive to implement that which we envision, we will not get caught in the snare. It’s not about how much less we do and how much more time we allocate to God. It’s about looking away from distractions, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and seeing Him as the source. May we be intentional about placing God as THE priority.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.