I must confess that on some days, I lack motivation. With work weeks fuller than ever, homeschooling three children, and finishing my master’s degree, I have to say some days, I just wake up exhausted.
As a pastor, I know that I am wired to handle stress. Sundays come with relentless repetition. The work that goes into crafting a sermon that honors Jesus takes rugged scholarship and hours of concentrated exegetical work.
Sometimes, the unexpected becomes expected. My schedule transforms from a neatly organized list of things I need to accomplish to an undecipherable jumble. I am not complaining; I always liked being busy; however, sometimes I fail to realize the work never goes away. Some days no amount of coffee will kick me into high gear as I should be. In fact, there are days my mind is filled with so many tasks that it feels like I cannot even think straight.
I know I am not alone with this. Everyone one of my parishioners goes through the same issues that I do. And I know from time to time everyone feels the suffocating weight of life and the pressing need to get everything done.
God, our heavenly Father, though reminds us that there is no need to remain in a stressful, chaotic state. If we do not make the adjustments to remedy the situation, then He will.
A couple of weeks back, my world was getting pretty crazy. I had two critical exams looming and a ton of papers to write. I was in the middle of homeschooling and finishing up my sermon for the week. Then my wife calls from work, she got sick. For two weeks, I had a sick wife at home, three children who did not understand momma needed her rest, and daddy was swamped with work.
During my most busy day, my daughter jumped on my lap and said, “Daddy, I need a huggy, and a kissy, and I need you to read to me.” I was frustrated inside; however, I did not show her or my boys who came over to see my response. I thought to myself, “they don’t know how important my work is.” So I closed my eyes, and I said a silent prayer, “Lord I need you to help me with this one.” Well, I got up, poured a coffee, the kids ran to my chair and waited expectantly. I sat down, and my daughter got up on my lap and handed me “Charlotte’s Web.” She nuzzled in, and I began to read.
The boys sat on the floor, listening and hanging on to every word. After each chapter, my daughter looked up and would say, “Daddy, just a little more,” no doubt a skill she had learned from her mother. We ended up reading six chapters. Then my youngest said, “Daddy, wrestle down here.” It’s hard to say no to a little roughneck that loves to wrestle his daddy. So I did. After wrestling, playing with trucks, and tractors and dollies, I prayed again, “Lord I asked you to help me?” I felt in my soul, Him whispering back, “I did.”
In fact, He did. That night I didn’t get any work done. But I had a great time with my babies. God used them to interrupt my important busy work for better work. The things we think are so important and pressing is not really. If we choose to fill our lives so tightly with things that push out God, family, and even our own well-being, then God will have no choice but to provide some margin in our lives.
Our job as Christians is to manage our time and provide in our lives time for the right priorities. God gave me a gentle reminder that night that work is never that pressing. In fact, that night of reading and playing with my children was one of the most refreshing and restorative times that I had in a long time. God will sometimes force His children to take rest whether we want to or not. It is loving and merciful that He does this for us. However, He does want us to get to a point where we can do this for ourselves. We must learn to say no at times and to know when enough is enough.
One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 23. It is a beautiful reminder that we need His help and guidance. It reminds us of His care for us and that we cannot do everything. The Psalm is meant to show us that we have a loving shepherd that knows our weaknesses and will guide us and lead us if we let him.
Are you burdened by a great many things? Is the weight of the world pressing down on your shoulders? Is the yoke you are carrying too much to bear? Remember the words of Jesus, “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.”
Jesus is the source of true peace. He is the good shepherd that King David wrote about in Psalm 23. This week ,if you are struggling with busyness in your life and feel claustrophobic from the weight of all the burdens you are carrying, please cling to these words from Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
I pray you to have a wonderful weekend and that you will find peace and rest with our Good Shepherd. God bless you.