Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lord, Set Me Free...from Busyness

All of my life, I’ve been a “mover and a shaker.” I think fast, move fast, drive fast, and like to think that I generally get more things done than most people. Give me a to-do list, and let me at it. I love projects of all kinds.
When I first came to the Lord in 1997, everything seemed to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n.  Suddenly, the beauty of things around me sparkled as they never had before. One day, while driving on a busy stretch of Interstate, I actually found myself just enjoying the sunshine and, for once, going the speed limit.
Cars raced past me at what seemed like break-neck speed, changing lanes, cutting each other off. Everyone seemed to be heading somewhere in an incredible hurry. I stuck to the right-hand lane to get out of their way. I remember grieving and praying for these people, and asking myself, “What could possibly be worth all that stress?”
That season in my life did not last very long.
Now, in my eighth year of ministry, this remains my greatest struggle—the area where the Lord continues to hammer away at my flesh—and the one Word I consistently hear from Him is, “Slow down, My son. Marvel at My creation. Rest in My presence. Love Me. Enjoy Me. Take time to love others. Lay down your to-do list and take up Mine.”
When I take the time to meditate on what the Lord is telling me, it is not difficult to see how much I give up by spending so much of life busy, busy, busy, always cramming as much as possible into each 24 hours the Lord gives me.
First of all, I’ve come to realize that busyness is a joy stealer. Its “fruit” is inner tension, stress and frequent frustration, and our loved ones are most often the recipients of these rotten fruits. Scripture promises the complete opposite for God’s people, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” (Galatians 5:22)
Moreover, busy Christians are powerless Christians. Prayer and connecting with God is difficult or nonexistent amid the inner agitation caused by busyness. Yet prayer is how we find God’s will and how we appropriate His power to do it.
So, how do we allow the Lord to set us free from this powerful spirit of busyness that robs us of so much?
One thing we need to do is get rid of the clutter in our lives. We need to say “no” to the things that steal time and that are of our own doing. In their place we should seek and be available to say “yes” to those things of the Lord. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
In making these choices we need to acknowledge our tendency to choose work and activities we can do in our own strength. This is just as true for the “good works” done in the name of ministry as it is for our other activities. With schedules full of self-chosen activities we can perform in our flesh, we don’t need to rely on God or pray to appropriate His power.
When Jesus sent Peter out, He told him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” (John 21:18) No way could Peter do what the Lord set before him in his own strength.
I’ll never forget the first time the Lord arranged for me, through a series of extraordinary circumstances, to go into a large state prison to minister to sex offenders. I had never even been inside a prison. You can believe I learned fast how to depend on the Lord, His strength, His words, His anointing! I was a desperate man because I knew I couldn’t do this in my own strength.
One of my favorite books on prayer, The Kneeling Christian, comments: “Do we realize that there is nothing the Devil dreads so much as prayer? His great concern is to keep us from praying. He loves to see us ‘up to our eyes’ in work, provided we do not pray. Someone wisely said ‘Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.’”
Jesus is not interested in items checked off of our to-do list. Jesus is interested in a relationship. Jesus wants to spend time with us so He can lavish us with His love, and teach us and empower us to give that Love to others. He wants to be our First Love, always.
Freedom from busyness depends vitally on our willingness to discipline ourselves to spend time with Jesus; quality time. How do we do this? First, we need to slow down and “be anxious for nothing.” (Philippians 4:6) Then we need to sit at His feet, meditate on His Word and His promises, and lay our needs and requests before Him. In short, we need a rich and meaningful devotional and prayer time with our Lord.
If we don’t, or can’t, abide in and enjoy His Presence quiet and still before Him, how can we abide in Him in the pace of our hectic day?
In Revelation 2, Jesus acknowledges the Church of Ephesus for all their good works, but then sharply calls them to repent: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”  (Revelation 2:4–5)
Recall also the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10. “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’ ”
The “good part” that Mary chose was to spend time in the presence of her Lord.
Tragically, like Martha feverishly serving the guests, busy, well-intentioned Christians are often worried, frustrated and unsatisfied.
God’s fervent desire for us is that we be satisfied and fulfilled in Him alone. One of the many reasons for this is that an unsatisfied Christian is ripe for Satan’s allurements, and therefore prone to seek satisfaction and joy from loves other than Christ alone.
Nehemiah 8:10b says “…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  David, too, was very aware that joy was the key to his restoration and walk with the Lord when he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” (Psalm 51:12) Jesus Himself endured the Cross “for the joy set before him.”
In short, we find ourselves without the strength or resolve to resist temptation and do God’s will when we are not filled with His joy. Besetting sins find their root much more easily in hearts not filled with the joy of the Lord.
From my own struggles, I say with confidence that busyness is the work of Satan, and may be his greatest weapon against the sincere Christian. Why?…because it renders the believer both impotent and unsatisfied.
Are you one who asks, “Why can’t I find true peace and joy?” If so, could it be that you have “left your First Love?”
In conclusion, I am not suggesting we stop working. I am suggesting that we stop working in the flesh. Most of us know when this begins to happen, when we feel the love of God and power of His Spirit draining out of us. That is when we need to stop.
As always we need to follow our Lord’s example. After ministering to the multitudes, Jesus knew that He was in need of quality time with His Father. “And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:46)
I suspect many of us sorely need to be willing to drop what we’re doing and go to the mountain to spend quality time with our Lord. We will surely find Him there.

By: Tom Blangiardo ( Taken from: http://www.purelifeministries.org/index.cfm?pageid=287&articleid=1049)

Tom Blangiardo serves as Director of Ministry Outreach. He is responsible for increasing the visibility and influence of Pure Life Ministries within the Church and also leads PLM’s Speaking and Prison Ministries.

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