Busyness gets a bad name, and oftentimes for good reason. All of us need to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we have going on in our schedules, freeing up time for much needed rest. School, sports, church, kids, friends, band, work, and on and on I could go. Our schedules feel jam-packed on a daily basis.
It makes sense, then, that a lot of books and life coaches seem to be encouraging us to make time in our schedules to just relax. Even God wants us to rest. What is vital, however, is the kind of rest we seek, and the kind of things from which we are resting.
I think that our modern concepts of rest and busyness are somewhat skewed. In fact, I would propose that there is actually a beauty to the right kind of busyness. A kind of busyness that I have had the pleasure of experiencing lately.
This past week I have started quite the journey, as I have began a summer internship with a ministry called Love Thy Neighborhood. This program has led me to the other side of the country for my entire summer break, providing me with the opportunity to live amongst the broken and deserted in society. The first week consisted of training, and as more information began to surface about what exactly life would be like while I’m here, my heart began to sink a little.
Our modern concepts of rest and busyness are skewed.
I love myself some good comic books and Netflix, but it was starting to sound like I would have almost no time for those. Every day would consist of either community outreach, work at my service site, or serving at the local church. Some days may even include all three. Each day I would have only about an hour and a half break, other than Monday, which would serve as our Sabbath Day. In other words, not much time for all of my lovely hobbies throughout the week….especially since the responsible thing to do would be to exercise during that break (I eat of lot of cookies whose effects need to be reversed). While college life had certainly kept me busy, I still found plenty of time to goof off and have fun with consistency.
Without that time here, I honestly thought I’d be pretty exhausted and miserable.
God, however, had a lesson in store for me – a lesson on busyness. I think the reason we find ourselves so frustrated with our seemingly endless schedules doesn’t really have anything to do with how busy we are, but rather with what it is that keeps us busy.
In other words, to experience the true joy that busyness has to offer, we must fill our schedules with the right things.
We were made to be busy. God always intended for us to work. It is a shame that so many of us have as much free time as we do, and it is even more troublesome that oftentimes when our schedules are packed full, it is with worthless things.
Christianity is not a day job. It encompasses all of life. This means that in every moment, we are on duty as ambassadors of Christ. Our schedules should be endlessly filled, not with the responsibilities placed on us by corporate America, but by the job description given to us by Christ.
As we begin to center all that we do around the gospel of Christ, we realize that all work is joyful, as it is all done to the glory of God.
The past two weeks, I have had almost no free time. I have watched exactly zero minutes of Netflix, and only read a couple of comics. I didn’t even check Twitter for three days after I got here (Yeah, I don’t know how I survived either).
The little free time I have had, I’ve spent reading life-giving books and building community.
And it’s been far better than I could have imagined.
The little free time I have had, I’ve spent reading life-giving books and building community. And it’s been far better than I could have imagined.
Through this experience, I’ve learned that playing with kids, reading Scripture, building relationships, and serving others are the kinds of things that have the potential to bring so much joy to the life of the Christian. It’s what we were meant to do, and it’s taught me a few different lessons about being righteously busy.
1. It forces us to lean on Christ as our true rest (Matt 11:28-30)
When you never stop moving, the statement that “man does not live on bread alone” really comes to life. In this case, man does not live on ‘relaxation’ alone. Instead, God has given us a means of true rest in Jesus Christ. As long as we continue to seek our rest in the things of this world, we will find ourselves unceasingly restless. Only Christ can give us the kind of rest we need. Lean on Him. Trust in the True and Better Sabbath: Jesus Christ.
2. It makes the Sabbath more meaningful (Mark 2:27)
Endless amounts of free time makes a day off rather commonplace. The Sabbath was given to us as a gift from God, meant to be appreciated and enjoyed as it points us to the Good Giver of all gifts. When things like this become common, it can be hard for us to grasp their true value. Taking a real Sabbath in the midst of a busy schedule can really begin to deepen our understanding of just what the Sabbath is meant to be.
3. Habits of sin get lost in the shuffle.
Staying busy means less time for those pesky old habitual sins. If you’re too busy serving the children of women caught in the sex industry, you won’t have much time to turn that computer on. Do you often find yourself dwelling on all of your imperfections and wanting to run from your problems? Your perspective may change while you are working with the homeless and the refugee. That old habit of judging a person by the way they look can be tough to hold onto when you’re spending multiple hours each day intentionally building relationships with the people in your community.
Sin doesn’t go away. The spiritual warfare you will face is still very real, and new temptations will surely begin to make their way into your life. But I’ve found that keeping your hands busy with the Lord’s work is one of the most reliable allies you can have in this lifelong battle against sin.
The Christian life is not an easy one. There is a lot we have been called to do. Life can be busy. In fact, life should be busy. It just needs to be busy with the mission that God has called us to do. Let us follow in the footsteps of the Apostles in Acts 2:42.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Continually devote yourself to Scripture, fellowship, prayer, and service. It will breathe new life into you in ways that you never could have imagined.
Wayne Kiehne is from Apache Junction, Arizona and made an impact by serving with Love Thy Neighborhood in the Nonprofit Leadership track during the summer of 2017. Wayne is currently enrolled at Grand Canyon University where he is majoring in Biblical Studies.