There is always enough time in every day to do everything that God wants you to do. I believe that statement. But it sure doesn’t feel like reality some days . . .
Right now I’m trying to find more time to, among other things (and in no particular order):
Accomplish more kingdom work in the community of believers I serve with
Invest in other people
Be a better father
Be a better husband
Add more to my ministry at the church where I serve
Get more and better sleep (!)
Get more exercise
Just rest in God’s presence without relying on performance (!)
Read/PodListen more (on how to do everything above!)
And work more on my blog!
This list isn’t even all-inclusive . . .
It seems like everytime I hear an awesome talk or read an amazing book, I’m inspired to focus on improving something worthy. And all of this potential Life Renovation is right before me if I just spend more time on it . . .
Right now I’m reading or listening to sections of numerous books on multiple topics–including two on how to be a better husband and father.
Those books on parenting/marriage are called–respectively–52 Things Kids Need From a Dad, and 52 Things Wives Need From Their Husbands. They are both great books (by a guy named Jay Payleitner). But that’s 104 ongoing new action items for me . . . And I haven’t even gone into the office yet!
I work at a great church so there are always things I feel God wants me to do to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to have the impact I’m supposed to. Part of why I serve in full-time ministry is that I want to be as effective as I possibly can for God’s purposes, for as long as possible.
There is not always enough time to do everything I want to do, or pressure myself to do. But I believe God always give us enough time to accomplish the things He desires.
I have days (like you) where it feels completely impossible to pull off all of the things that need to be done. Some days begin with me feeling completely swamped, and proceed to overflow with endless interruptions impeding any real progress on the things I desperately “need” to finish.
When I was a little kid the choices seemed simpler. There were right choices, and wrong choices. If I made the right choices, things seemed to fall into place. If I made wrong choices, there were consequences.
Now that I’m an adult, life is so much more complex. It feels like hundreds of possible (air quotes here) right choices present themselves each day and I can only actually deal with a small fraction of them. Which acceptably “good” choices are the best choices? Which ones are a total waste of time? Which will matter past the end of our natural lives and into eternity? How do I know and how do I choose?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph:2:10)
There’s a staggering thought: We were literally fashioned by the God of all creation to–among other things–“do good works.” But more amazingly than that: God prepared them in advance for us to do. Far in advance. Ridiculously far in advance. He knows they are coming and they are part of our segment in His story.
In all honesty, I have a lot of days where life feels mostly like routine maintenance. You probably do too. There are certain tasks that simply have to get done; certain things I know I’m supposed to do, and a certain mechanism to all of it. I collapse exhausted at the end of the day and get up the next morning and start all over again.
But Ephesians 2:10 gives us the opportunity to transcend the mundane and operate in an incredible sense of destiny. God has known–eons in advance– about the good works He has in store for us to accomplish in the tomorrows to come. The little things matter, even if no one but you and God see them, even if God is your only source of recognition. Maybe those matter most of all . . .
The ramifications of Eph 2:10 are vast: Think you’re not capable of accomplishing anything of real significance? This verse suggests God has set aside specific good works for you to do. He wouldn’t ask you to do them without enabling you to do them. Think what you do isn’t important? It’s been waiting for you since long before you were born.
Side note: we are not brought into a relationship with God through these good works. The verses right above Eph 2:10 make that abundantly clear: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9). But we are saved by grace, through faith, in order to–among other things–do the good works “prepared beforehand” (ESV), that were “planned long ago” (NLT).
Sometimes we need strength and focus to politely say “no” to little distractions. (Hours on Facebook and binge-watching Netflix come to mind here).
But I believe that–sometimes–the little distractions are what God wants us to do that day. How in the world are we supposed to know what to run with and what to reject when presented with multiple godly, “good” options, only one of which we can actually choose? How do we know the difference?
One of the things I’ve started praying each day is “God, please help me make right decisions, and follow up on them in right ways.”
It’s kind of my way of saying “God, I’m not always sure if that little impression is You or just my imagination, but please help me end up making the right choices either way.”
To quote a close friend of mine, who was quoting someone else, who probably heard it from someone else who was really smart: “God knows things that we don’t.” Our Father sees past, present, and future effortlessly and simultaneously, so He’s infinitely more qualified to guide my life than I am. I can trust that the One who coordinates the workings of the entire universe can figure out the the most effective plan to run my day. I am one of billions of people on a little planet in a tiny corner of one of billions of solar systems He manages, in just one of His billions of galaxies. I think He’s good for it.
James 1:5 says:
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.
I may be stretching the original intent and context of this verse somewhat, but I strongly believe that God wants to answer any prayer we pray for help in knowing how to best implement His will.
So what’s most likely to distract us away from the Important, toward what is instead simply screaming at us loudest? For many of us it’s fear of other people’s opinions. Or guilt. Or an ongoing need to keep the score even.
What will they think of me if I don’t do this for them? Will they not like me? Will they talk about me behind my back? Maybe. Possibly. Assuredly in some cases. But that’s their problem and their sin. Not yours.
Worse yet, if we set our agenda solely on keeping other people happy (at the expense of keeping God happy), two things occur:
- We don’t accomplish what God had for us to do.
- The people don’t stay happy anyway. They just find more to get upset about.
The disgruntled people don’t become “gruntled.” Malcontents don’t become content. Ingrates don’t become “grates”. Rescue a fool and you will have to do it again . . .
We tend to do what is urgent rather than what is eternal. We tend to allow guilt, or fear of other people’s opinions to guide our choices when the Holy Spirit has the best plan.
There is not enough time to do everything, but God knows the best course of action for each of your days. Some days the things God may most want you to do,
There are certain things we know from the Scriptures that are always God’s will. We don’t have to discern whether or not they are part of God’s plan: Take care of your family. Do a good job at your work. Love your enemies. Keep your word. Rejoice always. Pray continually.
But sometimes we are presented with more than one good option and we need God’s wisdom, day by day, case by case, to figure out what is best.
As I’m writing this, my 11 year old son came into my office at home and asked what I was doing. I explained to him what a blog was and that I do this so in some small way it might help people learn more about God. He didn’t know I had a blog and is right now reading one of my other posts for the first time. And I’m wondering if maybe that in itself wasn’t a good work that was set aside in advance for me to do . . . That would be just like God . . .
(by the way we are getting ready to go out for the day and do something fun together as a family).
God is amazing and faithful.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in
knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what
is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”
Philippians 1:9-10 NIV
Choose what matters over what is urgent