When life gets so busy that my relationship with God begins to suffer, my first impulse is to become less busy. But I’m not sure that that’s always the right answer.
Every semester, I talk with students who find their schoolwork getting in the way of their spiritual life. “I’m forced to read the Bible as a textbook,” they explain, “and I have so much reading to do that I don’t have time to spend with God. Bible College is killing my soul.” I’m not sure if that sounds overly dramatic or not, but let me assure you that this is a real problem that students face when studying the Bible becomes a requirement.
My answer is that Bible College is doing no such thing. That deadness was in their soul from the beginning, and the hectic pace of schoolwork simply brought it to their attention.
My advice to these students is to find a way to fellowship with God in the midst of their schoolwork. You’re required to read the book of Isaiah in a week’s time? Well, you can choose to do that separate from your relationship with God, or you can choose to proceed prayerfully, asking God to be with you as you read a little faster than you’d like.
True spirituality is not about your ability to control your schedule and circumstances, it’s about fellowship with God in the midst of everything that confronts you day in and day out.
Even if you’re not being forced to read the Bible (as if that’s a bad thing!), I believe that you can use your busy schedule as a means of fellowshipping with God. During the middle ages, there was an emphasis on humble tasks being done skillfully to the glory of God. A blacksmith, for example, would have seen his trade as a God-given responsibility, and he would have pounded away on his anvil as a means of doing all things to God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 10:31). It wasn’t about finding some sort of spiritual significance behind forging metal, it was about taking an ordinary task and doing it skillfully before the Lord.
As all homeowners know, home improvement projects never end. I initially saw these tasks as a burden that I had to push through so I could spend time with God. But during a recent drywall and stucco project, I consciously decided to fellowship with God through the craftsmanship that the project called for. It was great.
Shouldn’t every aspect of our lives be consciously lived in God’s presence? If that’s the case, then we will always be “spending time with God”—regardless of how busy our schedule is. I’m not saying it’s easy, but there’s got to be a way to approach your meetings prayerfully. Your commute could easily be transformed into a time of worship. Your emailing and report writing could be reframed as acts of faithfulness to the responsibilities that God has given you.
John 15 is the classic call to “abide” in Christ. I recommend reading through it with your schedule in mind. Notice that Jesus never mentions the hectic pace of our modern lifestyles. Instead, He simply calls us to abide in Him—this means in the midst of whatever we encounter. It’s possible, and it’s important.
Having said all of that, however, I do think that there is a time to let go of those things that make us unnecessarily busy. That will be the subject of my next post.