Too Busy to Be of Earthly Good

I’m busy, busy, dreadfully busy. How many of you agree? How many of you stress over the fullness of your calendar? Over balancing work and husband and kids and life? Maybe you’re taking some college classes or caring for aging parents? Perhaps you are homeschooling or figuring out how to balance life with a child who is chronically ill or has special needs? How do Too much to doyou get “it” all done and still find time to sleep?

You’ve no idea what I have to do. That’s a fair statement for all of us to make. Even those closest to me who have an idea of my schedule don’t fully understand it. For example, you know I write blog posts and books, but how much time does that take me? How long do I think and pray about what to write? What thoughts and fears must I tame after something is released to the general public? What effect does launching a book have on my schedule?

Busy, busy, shockingly busy. I have weeks where my calendar drives me crazy. I look at particular days and wonder what I was thinking to put it all on one day. Or within one week.

Much, much too busy for you. And that’s the problem. We’re too overloaded to be the earthly good we’re supposed to be. I could take it to the extreme and mention a news story from the last week where a young mother died of natural causes. That’s sad enough, but people around her were so uninvolved in her life that her infant son died from dehydration because no one else was there to care for him. Not the baby’s uncle who knew his sister was sick but thought she was doing better. Not the neighbors who heard the infant crying for a couple days.

‘Cause we’re busy, busy, frightfully busy. Before anyone assumes some false guilt, we must acknowledge that the tragic deaths of those two precious people isn’t all on the shoulders of the brother or the neighbors. The woman who died was also likely complicit in her isolation. Did she try to reach out to others? Had she burned bridges, or did she refuse to build any?

Dismiss my need of othersMore than a bumblebee, more than an ant. Sometimes I dismiss my own need of others because I know what my friends are trying to accomplish. I don’t want to interrupt their day or disturb their plans. I don’t want to be an inconvenience. Oh, that’s painful to admit because it’s self-dismissing and negates the value I hold on those relationships.

Busy, busy, horribly busy. And sometimes I dismiss the unresponsiveness of my friends. If I call or text and they don’t respond within a day or two, I tell myself they probably just have too much going on to respond. I think, “They’ll get back to me soon.”

We’d love to help, but we can’t! And before I know it, several days have gone by. Just like with that young mother, a tragedy could have taken place in their lives, and I wouldn’t know it until it’s too late to be of much earthly good.

Why do we do that to ourselves? To each other?

A Parable about Being Too Busy

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

once a man travelingMany of Jesus’s parables are familiar to us, and the story of the Good Samaritan told in Luke 10:25-37 is no exception.

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. 

Can’t you just hear the song from VeggieTales that I quoted above? I’m busy, busy, dreadfully busy, You’ve no idea what I have to do.

Jesus wasn’t done. He continued: Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

The song plays on. Busy, busy, shockingly busy, Much, much too busy for you.

But thankfully, Jesus didn’t leave the tragedy without a happy ending. He provided someone who was willing to help.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’”

Becoming Less Busy so We Are of Kingdom Good

Perhaps the Samaritan had provided enough extra time in his traveling days that helping this man wasn’t a tremendous imposition. Or perhaps his schedule was tight, and explanations for God wants to use ushis lateness had to be given once he arrived at his destination. We don’t know.

But I think that discussion misses the bigger point: God wants to use us to help others. And that often takes time that we won’t know ahead of schedule that we need.

So why not build more space into our lives and see what God will do with it?

Hmm. Anyone else think that’s a great question for a blog post but would be rather uncomfortable if Jesus asked it directly of us? In an online devotion, we can nod in agreement and think, “Yes. I should do that.” And then we go on with our lives, not changing a thing.

‘Cause we’re busy, busy, frightfully busy.
More than a bumblebee, more than an ant.

But. Should we be?

Busy, busy, horribly busy.
We’d love to help, but we can’t!

Really? Can’t? I’m not so sure Jesus would be pleased with that answer.

In fact, God made a point to get my attention — but more on that next week.

In the meantime, I want to be sure that I offer you solutions that may help. But that means I need you to tell me: What do you most struggle to balance, or what causes the most stress in your life?

 

Italicized words in the first section (before Scripture quotes) are lyrics. Vischer, Phil. “Busy, Busy.” Are You My Neighbor? DVD. VeggieTales. 1995.

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