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When it comes to being busy, I would say that most humans in this world possess that state. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people used to the “go, go, go” of life were forced to the “slow, slow, slow” efforts to stop the spread of this deadly virus. Nearly a year since its outbreak, the world is in a frenzy. Many are returning to this sense of “normalcy,” and others are attempting to avoid it. But should we?
As a planned person, I live, sleep, and breathe with the mantra that I am prepared and spontaneous to plan my spontaneity. If that isn’t a paradox of our lives, I don’t know what it is! But all jokes aside, I have lived in a state of “busy” since childhood. Taking a rest from this adolescent lifestyle, however, can seem excruciating.
Whether we realize it or not, busy is often a state we live in but shouldn’t eternally reside. When asked how we are, we respond “busy” simultaneously with “tired.” And as other struggles in life, this addiction of crammed schedules and filling every crevice with activities can leave us feeling burnt out, hopeless, and unaware of problematic errors. Instead of focusing on the moment, we look to the next assignment, checkbox, or to-do list to fulfill our heart’s desires. Without even realizing it, “busy “has become just as much of an idol as stagnancy, isolation, or the worship of other things. How do we combat this popular way of living while still experiencing our lives productively? I believe that Scripture reveals ten simple ways to recover from your idol of busyness while maintaining potency and enjoying life.
Talking to God might sound simple, but when it comes to recovering from “busyness,” one of the best ways to combat this demon is prayer.
Jesus tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV). If we expect to make a lasting change by removing ourselves from a chaotic state, it must begin with a conversation with God and telling Him our situation. Although He knows every thought before we say or think it, the Father loves to hear from us and can speak directly to us in our dialogue with Him.
“Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4, ESV).
2) Read Scripture
Beyond prayer, reading Scripture is the following best way that I believe God not only speaks to us but can help us break bondage from that which enslaves our weak and weary souls.
While many tend to think that idolatry doesn’t occur today because we are less likely to worship stone altars and sacrifice to Baal, that isn’t the case. We still have idols; they merely look different to the human eye.
What do you think about more than God? Is it money, a significant other, a job promotion, vacation, or spontaneity? Anything we put before God is an idol, and like all idols, it will lead to our spiritual death if we aren’t careful.
In His powerful Word, God warns His people to flee from even a hint of idolatry. Today, when you read the rich messages of truth, allow them to saturate and speak to your soul.
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6, ESV).
When we abandon our “busy” with an infatuation with His Word, don’t be surprised if you start to hear Him above all the noise around you.
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love” (Jonah 2:8, ESV), but those who idol God above all else will grow and prosper. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21, ESV).
Despite its obvious revelation, rest isn’t suggested but required for killing obsessions with busyness. And if I’m honest, resting is something that I struggle with daily.
A few years ago, I woke up one morning unable to walk on my right foot. With pins and needles piercing through my arch, I could barely step off my bed onto the cool floor beneath my feet. Hobbling my way to the nearest podiatrist, I was fearful.
Because I’d broken my left foot a few years prior, I suspected it wasn’t hurt but didn’t know what was wrong. After going to the Doctor, I was asked, “When did you last rest?” and the more I thought about it, the more I realized the problem. Between leading a dance team, working out, working, and going to school full-time, not only was my mental state never stagnant, but my physical one wasn’t either. I had run so much I ran myself straight into two weeks of “rest” prescribed by the Physician.
Never taking time to “rest,” even if that means sitting for five minutes to breathe, is not good, although most of society lives by that unsaid but inhibited mantra. For fear of missing out, not achieving goals, or living up to potential, we become slaves to our vices.
Jesus tells us that we should not live life like we’re running mice in a wheel but running in pursuit of fulfilling His calling for our lives. In Matthew Chapter 28, He gently reminds us to come to Him, and He will give us rest. Because rest, you see, is not always a state of moving from rapidness to stagnancy but learning to trust God whether we’re active or still. Rest is learning to live in the moments of silence and creating those spaces so that God has a moment to speak.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2, ESV).
Once we learn what it means to rest in God, we must then learn how to confess our “busyness” to the Lord, for it isn’t always a good thing! The world says, “be busy; you might miss something,” but the Lord is asking you to make room in your schedule for Him.
A wise quote I once read said this: “If you’re too busy for God, you’re busier than He ever intended for you to be.”
The art of confession asks us to humble ourselves before God, submit to Him, and acknowledge that we need His help. That starts with asking Him to remove the idols that make us preoccupied and too unavailable for Him. While being busy is not always a bad thing, it is a great idea to take a self-inventory of where you’re spending your time. If any of it needs to be re-evaluated to His plans and His schedule for your life, ask Him to help you.
James 4:7-10 in the KJV beautifully writes this prayer:
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9, ESV).
After taking a self-inventory before God, it’s time to reflect on what changes need to be made in your life right here, right now. For me, the best way to speculate thoughts is to journal, meditate, pray, and ask God to speak.
After reading Scripture, talking to God, and focusing your mind on Christ, ask Him to separate your busyness from your relationship with Him. In time spent with God, this should be a delight, not a task we check off our to-do list.
Too many times have I said, “I need to read my Bible,” but then I am pressed for time and stressed. Reframe this to state, “I get to read my Bible, and any time spent with Him is an honor.”
God understands busy seasons in your life, but even if you have five minutes or five hours, what matters is the quality over quantity dedicated and focused on Him.
Jesus, open my heart, mind, soul, eyes, and ears that I may behold extraordinary things in Your Word today and reflect what I read into practice. Amen (based on Psalm 119:18).
6) Ask God
After analyzing your time, if you’re unsure if you have an idol in your life, ask God! He knows every thought before you utter it and every word and preoccupation that fills your mind.
Asking God to search, test, and know your heart is not only a humble act of surrender but a willingness to banish your life from the love of idols once and for all.
Psalm 26:2 declares, “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind” (Psalm 26:2, ESV). As you sit before the Lord today, have a posture of obedience to whatever He may ask of you.
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10, ESV).
Surrender, defined as “to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority,” is a crucial notion when it comes to recovering from addiction to busyness.
When we choose to surrender or abandon ourselves entirely to God, this means that we value our time spent and relationship with Him as far more significant than our time spent and relationship with anything else. Idols have a sneaky way of coming into our lives as good things: relationships, jobs, opportunities, fun trips. However, when they become the focus, obsession, and completion of our lives, above anything and anyone else, that’s disobedience to God.
As the perfect example, Jesus prayed to God to take away His burdens before His crucifixion, but that the Lord’s will be done above all. It was God’s will that Jesus died the way He did to save us from our sins, but that came at the surrender of the one willing to die in that horrific manner. We must be ready to die to ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him in surrender as Jesus did.
“And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:35-36, ESV).
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV).
Usually, people who are “busy” do not have free time in their schedules. Running from place to place, their ability to rest for more than five minutes is absurd.
As we become intentional with unscheduling our busyness, it’s essential to schedule time alone with God instead of five-hundred “busy” activities.
It’s good to be involved, volunteer, and serve others, but always remember to make time for God first.
Luke 14 recounts this example in the Parable of the Great Banquet. We must be ready and waiting for the Lord’s return, and that starts by spending daily, nourishing, and fulfilling time with Him.
“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15, NIV)
While it might go without saying, one of the most effective ways to recover from a permanent state of busyness is to transform it into a non-permanent one, and this starts with taking the time to be quiet before God!
Even if it’s merely for a few minutes, quieting yourself before the Lord will do wonders. It allows you to have an open conversation dialogue with Him, listen when He speaks, and rest in His sovereignty. Seek to do good, be still before Him, and wait for Him to speak.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices” (Psalm 37:7, ESV).
Finally, as with any important decision made, you can be addicted to busy and read all these tips in agreeance and still be busy. If we want to change, it must start with us taking action and standing by those differences we want to add to our lives.
You can tell God “I’m sorry” a thousand times over and never change, or you can say, “Lord, I’m sorry, change me and make those changes last.”
We live as humans on a fallen planet and will always make mistakes as we strive to be the best Christian possible, but we can ask God to do work in us and transform our state of busyness into a state of preoccupation with Him.
Wherever you go, allow God to be the center, focus, and forefront of every action you take and busy day you meet. In Christ, you can change for the better, replacing idolatry with a pure and desirable obsession with Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).