"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida." (Luke 9:10)
These are just two of the many examples we can find of Jesus withdrawing from the busy-ness of ministry to rest and meet with God. It's a model of something very necessary for the life God has called us to live as His followers.
In our society, I believe this is even more important for us to learn. We prize being busy - even in the church. And we feel guilty for taking a break.
Yet, if we were to follow Jesus' example, as recorded in the gospels, we would regularly carve out time away from the busy-ness to be with God. We would make the time away a priority rather than an after-thought.
Because, the truth is that we can't live out what God has for us the best if we're constantly running from one thing to the next. We got too tired.
When we're constantly running, we also risk missing what God is leading us to next. We can get so focused on what we need to do next that we miss out on God trying to move us in a different direction. Or we just get so tired that even the thought of doing something new or different becomes too much for us.
What would it look like for us to regularly take time away for refreshing and the hear from God? What would change if we became intentional about not allowing busy-ness to take over our lives?
It seems I go in seasons with this. Sometimes I do this much better than others. It's easy for my calendar to just get filled up again - especially when it's with good things. But, even those good things may not be the best things.
So, how do we protect ourselves from falling into the trap of prizing our busy-ness? How do we make sure we're not so busy we don't have room for time to hear from God?
There's a few things I've learned that help me to do this better.
1) Be intentional and schedule it.
If I'm not paying attention it can be really easy to overload my calendar. All the empty places in my days get filled. But, if I regularly block off time in my calendar, I'm more likely to leave the space I need in my life. Often I sit down and block out the time on my calendar at the beginning of the month for the entire month - so it's just done and I don't have to try to remember all the time.
2) Lean to say no - even when it's something good.
This has probably been one of the most difficult things for me to learn and I don't do it well all the time. Lots of good opportunities to be involved in something come my way, but, realistically, I can't say yes to them all. Sometimes the way to manage our schedules and not become too busy is to say no to some of the good opportunities that come our way.
I've learned not to say a quick yes or be too hasty in my no. But, instead, to take each good opportunity to prayer and give myself time to look at the impact a yes would have on me, my family, my friends, my other commitments, and, most importantly, my relationship with God. Sometimes it won't fit, sometimes it will, and sometimes I realize it's time for something to change because this needs to fit and something else doesn't anymore.
3) Show grace to yourself.
In many ways, this is the most important one. We don't always do this well. We'll fill our calendars and get so busy we don't have time for what should be most important. When we realize that, it's not time to beat ourselves up. It's time to make the decisions we need to make to get our schedules beack under control and start again.