I have to be honest with you…I used to use the “B” word all the time. I used it proudly. I used it to describe myself, sometimes on a daily basis! It become a sort of qualifier for me-an evaluation of importance. Our culture contributed quite a bit to my wearing the “B” word like a badge of honor, but the truth is-the biggest problem was my own brokenness and lack of identity. And don’t worry, its not what you’re thinking…It was actually a few years ago that God first started nudging my heart about this word. He helped me realize how often I used it, and how it was anchored in a dangerous cocktail of pride and insecurity. Eventually, He did what He always does best-he lovingly challenged me and boldly invited me into heart transformation. To shift my language, to speak from a place of security in my identity in Him. And that’s when I knew I’d never use the “B” word the same way again. It was time to finally quit, cold turkey, the word that had consumed me like a drug- I thought I had it under control, but the reality is it was slowly sucking the life out of me. It was time to say goodbye, to “BUSY”.
In this high-achieving, driven, results oriented culture we live in-“busy” doesn’t seem to be optional. Its the standard. The expectation. Its the qualifier of importance and identifier of value. The busier you are, the more important you must be. Nothing ever seems to be quite good enough-it has to be bigger, better, faster, harder, stronger. We are told that we have to have it all, do it all, be it all. We compare accomplishments and achievements, and fight to be “the best”.
Work has become our god. Lots of work. Hard work. Important work. Or, sometimes, not so important work-simply something to fill our time with to create the illusion of importance.
Our calendars are full, packed back to back, and any “white space” left seems to glare at us and taunt “Fill me! Schedule me! Don’t leave me empty! Who do you think you are to be entitled to free time? You should be DOING something.”
And we give in. We schedule and plan and “busy” ourselves, becuase somehow, somewhere, we believed the lie that our identity, worth, and value is determined by our doing.
I believe this is right where the enemy wants us. Busy. Because then, maybe, we won’t be able to do the things God has actually called us to. We’ll be so “busy” with all the “things” that we’ll lose sight of our true purpose. Doing everything we can to prove our worth, so that we have no time or space to be STILL. Because if we were to be still, we might actually be able to listen. To hear the gentle whisper of a Heavenly Father inviting us to stop. Reminding us that we were created to be human beings, not human doings. Drawing us into His rest, restoring our identities, teaching us how to breathe again. How to do great works, love well, and live on mission for His kingdom out of the overflow of our fullness in him-not in an attempt to fulfill ourselves through striving. To be consumed and absorbed with knowing Him instead of performing for Him. Or anyone else for that matter.
The journey wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect. I still fall back into old habits and patterns more often than I’d like to admit. But God is good, and He is gracious, and He is patient. He has been teaching us how to be still, slow, and silent in a world that is busy, fast, and loud. How to spend our time wisely and prayerfully instead of maniacally. To seek Him first, to go and do only where and when He tells us to. To make no apologies about saying “No thank you”, “Not today”, or “I’ll get back with you tomorrow.”
Now, there is a fine line between abusing work and abusing rest. Its just as easy to get legalistic about our Sabbath as it is about our work. To end up making more rules, laws, and boundaries to keep people out. This is not the goal of “rest.” Rest is invitational. Its inclusive. Our time is often spent in community, inviting others in. Interruptions are often opportunities from the Lord. So for us, it wasn’t enough to erase “busy” from our lives-we had to replace it with something else. That something, was “intentional.”
Being intentional means we pray about our commitments, our work, our calendar, our schedule, our invitations, and our opportunities. It means we decide what’s non-negotiable and we prioritize those things. It means we ask the Lord what our current assignment is and we strategically center and steward our lives around what He gives us. It means we add rhythms and layers into our lives that help free us up even more to run hard after what God calls us to. It means that sometimes (often!) our days are FULL, but not “busy”.
Intentional is our counter-cultural rebellion against the distractions that threaten to keep us from living out the kingdom assignment we’ve been given.
Intentional is the anecdote for busy, hurried, and rushed.
Intentional is how we find rhythms in the rest God has invited us to, and the work God has called us to.
Intentional recognizes that we do not have to be all things to all people at all times.
Intentional is how we take the fixed, limited time that we have and use every second of it for maximum kingdom impact and God’s greatest glory.
Intentional transcends personality, gender, marital status, socioeconomic status, and any other lie that tempts us to believe that “busy” is our only option.
The invitation into intentional living is open-come one, come all…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)