Busy is a Four-Letter Word

Luke 5: 16

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Jesus set a priority on spending time to pray and fellowship with his father. I wonder, though, how he had time to slip away to the mountains or the wilderness for fellowship time. Most pastors I know are busy, very busy. Jesus saw all of the demand. He saw the plethora of hurting people. And he, of all people knew he had the means to help everyone of them. People were clamoring after him for his words, his prayers and his healing touch. I just don’t understand how, among all the people pulling on him and all the needs of the people, the people for whom he came to earth, I don’t see how he was able to sneak away for private time.

I called my mom the other day, just to catch up. During the conversation I asked if she had received the document she requested of me. She replied, no, she hadn’t. I was surprised she had not called me and asked if I had sent it. She said she figured with all that I have going on that I was just too busy to get to it. My response, “How sad!” This is the state our culture has come to. This has become the norm. And I think it is pathetic. I had sent the document, and I told her that I am never too busy to do something for her. Yeah, I’ve got stuff going on. We all do, but I also know something about priorities and profanities, and I am here to say that “busy” has become, to me, a profane vulgarity.

I saw a friend of mine from the YMCA recently and remarked that I had not seen her teaching any classes recently. She told me that she had scaled back on her schedule and that teaching Y classes was something she had to cut out. This woman works a full-time job and has a family. She began to feel that she had too many balls in the air, too many things on her plate, and was not able to give the priority items in her life the time and attention they deserve. I admire her for this. I believe in doing all things well. Some of us, many of us in fact, have taken on so much that we do nothing with excellence. I admire this woman for figuring out what is important, like Jesus did, and doing those things.

Jesus corrected Martha when she let herself be overwhelmed with the many “to do’s”. He pointed out that Mary was doing what was important, that she had her priorities right. Rather than running around trying to do everything, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet fellowshipping and learning from him. Most of us are too busy to give Jesus time. We are Marthas and the worst part of it is that we are proud of it.

I hear people practically every day talking about how busy they are. Some people boast about it wearing their busyness as a badge of honor. Well, all I see is a scarlet B in the place of the scarlet A. I see an inability to prioritize and properly invest one’s time. And I have a reason to know about this. I was the worst of us all. I worked all of the time and do you know what I accomplished? My health declined significantly. I gained weight. My joints hurt all the time. All of my relationships suffered including the one with he whom I declare that I love most of all. Pshaw! If you love me, show me! People have a right to judge our fruit instead of our words. That is what Jesus told them to do. If you say you love someone, that they are important to you, then show them by spending time with them.

Busy can be a blessing. I am thankful I have things to do. I really am. I like being busy. It is exhilarating and makes me feel fully alive. However, it is also a curse. Societally it has become acceptable to be “busy.” Busy can be sin though, and every one of us needs to hear this. If you can’t manage your tasks and still have time for the priorities, then you really should consider adjusting your schedule. Do like my friend did and cut something out of your schedule. I hope what you cut out isn’t God, though, and honestly, just between you and me, He is usually the first one to suffer. “Oh, I have time for God,” we might say, but the truth is that your prayer time is in the shower and on the drive to work. Maybe you are going slack on your obligations at church. Maybe your social life is growing, and that is a blessing, but your most important priorities are suffering.

Only you and Father can do the kind of heart work needed to ascertain if you have lost your balance. If so, you can always have a do over. I always tell people, “Tomorrow is January 1st.” We can have a virtual January 1 anytime we need it. Today is a great day to readjust but if you don’t feel you’ve gotten it right today, then you have tomorrow and the next day. I don’t want you to be like I was and frankly, I don’t want to be like I was either. I learned a rather painful lesson. Now, if I should I let the tasks of my busy schedule overwhelm the priorities of my life, I very much hope, and expect, my Father to correct me. I remember my pastor’s brother, who is also and ordained minister, commenting that I must like how busy and overwhelmed I was. Well, he had a point. If there wasn’t something in it that gratified me, I wouldn’t have maintained that insane schedule.

Our busyness takes many forms but if you cannot be a person of your word then you might be too busy. If you frequently have to call off or reschedule plans with friends, then you might be too busy. If you hear the words, “I’m just so busy,” coming out of your mouth, then you might be too busy. I encourage you to look at the substance of your life. Are your friends and family suffering because you are “so busy”? Are you becoming unreliable or often unavailable? Take an inventory and ask yourself if you are doing yourself justice. Does your life need some calibration? Where are your priorities and are you doing them justice? Are you serving busyness instead of faithfulness?

These are all questions you can take to the Father. Ask him if you are responding to a brokenness inside you. He can heal those broken parts. Satan would love you to be so busy that you have no time for the Lord or His work. Satan wants you to damage your health and your relationships. Look very honestly at your life and be sure that you are staying within the refuge of your Father. Be honest with Father about where you are in your life and ask Him to help you readjust your schedule if need be. Don’t let busyness overwhelm your life but rather let the love and anointing of God care for you and for all the pieces of your life. Go to the wilderness and pray. Let Father speak into your life about all the demands on you.

Practice Presence

Luke 5: 16

But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

This passage is speaking of Jesus. Most of the scripture reveals His public ministry but this is a glimpse into Jesus’ personal habits. Ministry isn’t that different from sports. The success is in the preparation. For athletes we like to say it is what you do away from the cameras that really matters. We know from Acts 10: 38 that Jesus was anointed with Power and the Holy Spirit. That should be enough, one would think, to be anointed by God, but Jesus developed the gift in Him by spending time alone with his father and the Holy Spirit. It is that alone time that built Him up and prepared Him for the work of the Lord. It was necessary, vital time.

Not much has changed. We can have the same anointing as Jesus, many do. But we, like Jesus, need time to develop the gifts inside of us. We need time alone with God, quiet time that He can use to build us up and develop us. You and I are never going to develop spiritually by spending an hour in church once or twice a week. For that matter, no amount of time at church is going to replace the time that you need to spend alone with your father. Church serves a different function and was never meant to replace quiet time with the Lord. I wish for you all to have fulfilling intimacy with the Lord. I want you to be as close to Him personally as you want to be. That only comes by time with Him though. You have to sneak away from the bustle of life and find quiet time with him. For those of you with a lot of time on your hands, praise God. You have the time others have a hard time finding. Don’t let yourself be lonely. Use that time to get into God’s presence. The rewards are awesome.

Busy is a Four Letter Word

Luke 5: 16

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

This topic just keeps popping back up. I think the reason is because we do lead very busy lives. Because of that, we have to carefully manage our lives. It seems to me that in simpler times this might not have been such a big issue but then when I think of Jesus I have to reconsider. Jesus was the busiest guy ever. He knew that he only had a short time in which to completely and radically change the world. He had a lot of work to do and just a short time to do it. Worse, he had to walk everywhere he went which took up a lot of his time. Still, he always managed to slip away to be with his Father. His ministry depended on that time with the Father. Could he have done the things he did if he didn’t go to the well himself and fill up?

I think this quiet time away must have been important because he taught his disciples this strategy. Look what he told them in Mark 6: 31, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.” The passage said that there were so many people coming to them and they were so busy that they didn’t even have time to eat. Well, if they were that busy and had that many demands on their time, how could they afford to go away by themselves? How could they afford the time off?

Jesus taught them by his example as well and through the recorded history of the Bible, he is teaching us this lesson today. We see him living his advice in Mark 6: 46 where it says, “And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.” He led by example showing his disciples that if they were going to do anything great in life, they must prioritize their prayer time.

I have noticed that even ministers have this problem. We can get so busy doing the work of God that we forget that our time with Him is the most important. Everyone has deadlines. Everyone has pressure and stress. Yet some people learn how to get this piece into their schedule every day. Is it simply a matter of setting it as a priority? Maybe we don’t love God enough. Maybe we need to meditate on our feelings about God. The best thing is to do it for a period of time and see how much smoother life is.

We have worn our busyness like a badge for years. People brag about how busy they are. Well, I am a recovering busy person. Yes, I am still busy but I am being healed of the obsession of it. The excuses I used to use to justify my out of balance lifestyle just don’t work anymore. Now when I hear other people talking about how busy they are and how they just can’t do something, in the back of my mind I hear, “There is healing for that.” The solution to this problem may be different for different folks but ultimately I think we just have to do whatever is necessary to unburden our lives so that there is time for God in our daily schedule.

What do you think? Are you stressed and overburdened? Jesus said that he came to take our heavy burdens. When we walk with him daily, he takes the weight and makes our burden light. If you are really that busy, then you need Jesus. You need a whole bunch more of him than you are getting right now. Take some time. Honestly, you can find a moment if you are intentional about it. Go talk with Jesus and ask him to help you with your load. Make a deal with him that you will give him some of your tasks and you will spend time in prayer. I promise you will be glad if you do.

Rest Area

Mark 6: 31

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

Jesus and his disciples were absolutely flooded with work; so much so, in fact, that they did not even have time to eat. Have you ever been that busy? If so, look at the teaching Jesus gave the disciples. Take time out. Do not keep up this pace. Jesus took them away from their work to a quiet, lonely place so that they could have rest. The work they were doing was important. It was the work of the Lord. They were ministering to the needs of the people and people were getting saved. Yet even though they were doing Jesus’ own work, working in his own ministry he took them away from it. It was important to Jesus that he teach them balance. This lesson was so important to Jesus that he took his disciples away from the needy and hungry children of Israel. Can you really grasp how significant that was? Jesus’ ministry was only to last three years and yet he took his disciples away from work.

And why did this story find its way into the Bible? Of course it is so that we will not make the same mistake that the disciples were making. Jesus wants us to learn to balance our lives. He takes no joy in a work-a-holic. Our society applauds busyness and over work but in Jesus’ book those are the signs of someone who is out of balance and headed for a crash. Jesus said his yoke is easy and his burden light (Matthew 11: 30) so if we are struggling under a heavy burden then we know we have stepped out of Jesus’ yoke and picked up a burden of our own. Jesus would “often slip away to the wilderness and prayLuke 5: 16. He taught his disciples to slip away so that they could rest and pray. If he did that and he taught his disciples to do the same, then why do you think that he wants something different for you? Luke says that Jesus would “often” slip away. That means that he didn’t just wait for his annual vacation. He lived a life of balance and he wants us to do the same. I once heard Kenneth E. Hagin preach a wonderful message about living a fasted life. Some people live life full steam in one direction and then full steam in another direction. Hagin was teaching balance. Work when it is time to work but rest when it is time to rest. Take time to pray and take time to live. Don’t overload in any direction but rather keep yourself in peace and balance. If Jesus was not only willing but dedicated to leaving his work in order to get rest and prayer time, then don’t you think it is wise for us to do the same thing? I know this can be a difficult lesson to learn but listen to the Spirit of God. He is trying to tell you something. It is in your best interest and for God’s glory.

Time Away

Luke 5: 16

But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

This passage is speaking about Jesus. As you read the accounts of his life, you will discover that Jesus frequently went off by himself for time alone with his Father. Likewise, we need to learn to get away, alone with God regardless of how busy we are. We will never walk in the way of Jesus without doing the things he did. Surely if he needed time alone with God, then we do too.

I am encouraging you to find time to be alone with God because that is where your intimacy with him is found. No matter how much we go to church or how big our ministries are, the relationship with the Father is built in the quiet times together. Show him how precious he is to you by giving him a few minutes of your time. If you cannot give God some of your time, then how important to you is he really? I promise you that the rewards are well worth the time spent.