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Thursday, March 6, 2014

busy. busy. busy.

Ok, so going a month without posting on your blog probably isn’t good “blogger etiquette.”  Sorry about that.  February, the month of love, was indeed lovely overall but also extremely busy.  Sometimes I wonder if we say that too much.  I hope people aren’t offended by it – after all, everybody’s busy, right?  Who is to say that my busy is more all-consuming than your busy? 

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I’m reminded of a Seinfeld quote from the ever-insensitive George Costanza: GARY: Hey George.
GEORGE: Gary? Well, well, well well.  Where have you been?  I've been leaving you phone messages for months.
GARY:  I know. I've been pretty busy.
GEORGE: Busy. Don't give me busy. Who's not busy?  I’m busy.  We're all busy.  Everybody's busy.  All right, tell me, what's kept you so busy?
GARY: Mostly chemotherapy.  ok, I'll see ya.                                                      Classic Costanza.  Open mouth, insert foot.

All this talk of busy-ness got me thinking.  It is unfortunate that few involved in Christian ministry are strangers to hectic schedules and overflowing planners. Maybe you’ve heard the statistics about the decreasing average tenure of pastors, youth ministers only lasting a few years, or missionaries burning out long before their intended commitments are fulfilled. And your average Charlie church-goer isn’t off the hook either. He gets just as over-committed as anybody, balancing ministry involvement with a full-time career and family.

Part of it is certainly understandable – why wouldn’t we be pouring ourselves out in service to our Lord? God has called each one of us to build his kingdom, carry his cross, spread his gospel, and edify his body, the church. We shouldn’t be expecting Easy Street. We rightly desire to give our all for Christ and should expect to get tired along the way.

I wonder, though, about the appropriate level of crazy. And do we ever stop to consider the consequences of exceeding it?

Jesus’ disciples had a unique perspective on Christian ministry. They worked and served alongside our Savior in the flesh, observing his pace, his time management, his energy levels. Being fully man, He grew tired just like we do. He needed breaks, rest, and time to reconnect with his Father in heaven. Working until you tire isn’t wrong; Jesus did it on a regular basis, and he was perfect.

But his followers weren’t. And they missed some pretty amazing things because they were too busy to notice. One example comes from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus has just fed a crowd of several thousand with a kid-sized pack lunch. The disciples were actively involved here – they were the ones distributing the food. Then, that same evening, Jesus walked on the water to meet his friends in the middle of the lake. Remember, this is the same lake where they had witnessed him talk down a tempest just a few chapters earlier. Yet in the face of this aquatic balancing act, the disciples’ response progresses from terror to amazement. Mark 6:50-51

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed…”

Completely amazed? Really? Hadn’t they just witnessed him multiplying bread and fish like it was Math class? According to Mark’s timeline, Jesus had already cast out a legion of demons, raised the dead to life, forgiven sins while healing a paralytic, cured a woman who grabbed his coat and restored a shriveled hand on the Sabbath. Add to that the storm-calming and claims of Divinity and you have a pretty impressive resume!

So why the sudden attack of amnesia? Verse 52 goes on to reveal the underlying problem: “...for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”

Hmmm. Most heart-hardening is either directly caused by God (see Pharoah, king of Egypt) or by the sin present therein. This is a classic case of the latter.

Busy schedule = prideful focus on self = focus off of God. At first I was offended at the disciples for seeing right past their Savior, then I realized I do the same thing.

How often have I missed out on what God is doing because I’m too busy? Am I so concerned with making sure everyone gets enough loaves and fishes that I fail to see the food materializing before my eyes? It’s a scary thought.

I get so caught up in ministry that I can miss the One I’m ministering through. I’m busy teaching, coaching, praying, parenting, loving, encouraging, training, serving, giving, yada, yada, yada. (last Seinfeld reference, I promise)

But if I’m doing all these things on my own strength, it’s all for nothing. I need to be drawing daily from the Fount of Living Water, leaning heavily on the Lord of all Creation, standing in awe of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, and falling on my knees in worship of the Resurrection and the Life.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul. Worship his Holy name. Sing like never before, oh my soul. I’ll worship his holy name!”

KNOW your Savior. DWELL in his presence. EAT at his table. LIVE by his Word.

Don’t miss out!

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