I was reading this Psalm this morning and it jumped out at me in my usual rush to accomplish everything on my to-do list:
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Psalm 127:1-2
I often wake up in the morning with about a million things I want to do and forget my family in the midst of what I think I should be making a priority. I hate that.
So, I found it really interesting that my reading this morning talked about the idiocy of waking up early and staying up late because God is the one who provides regardless. Now, I’m not knocking a good work ethic at all, but I think a lot of times I get in this zone of thinking that if I get all that’s on my list done, I will be a success. I forget that unless God brings favor, I am pretty hopeless.
It is interesting how often God focuses on this relationship piece versus the task piece of our lives. He says, hey, I don’t want you to work and work with nothing to show for it—relationships are so much more important. I think it’s funny that the second half of the Psalm talks about how children are so important and are the delight of your heart. He goes from saying—don’t work yourself to death because I’m the one who brings favor and then reminds you about what a blessing your children are.
I can’t tell you how many times a day I need that refocus. My priority must be those little kids and the husband that are beating around my house today—not whether or not I have written 2,000 words, cleaned the bathrooms and made bread. Yes, those things need to get done, but they are not the priority.
Unfortunately, often we push people around us to stay busy, to be productive and to define themselves by this busyness and productivity—and we push ourselves even more! And I think that’s where the problem lies. Good hard work is great, but are we using it to try to gain love through our performance? Are we trying to get someone to tell us we are good enough and accepted because of our accomplishments? That is my check often throughout the day. Am I doing this because I think someone will think more of me (or I will find worth somehow) or because I really believe God has called me to it today? Can God call me to clean a bathroom or make a meal? Absolutely! But He can also call me to sit down and read a book and rest my soul for a minute. If I’m running at a thousand miles a minute, I will not hear that call.
This abiding relationship is an interesting development because it moves us from our lists, our performance and our striving for acceptance to a rest in the Vine as He moves through us to provide the Life-blood that we need for each task. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything—we just need a different source. This allows me to deal with the interruptions of life differently. It also means that I can really see my family and they are not crowded out by my lists.
This kind of relationship with Jesus is a little scary because it feels like we have no parameters. He could bring interruptions to our day and call us to deal with the interruptions in the love He provides, and I don’t like interruptions when I’m on a roll! But if I’m willing to submit myself to His plan and understand that I don’t have to be enough for each situation that comes because He is enough for all of it, then I’ll be ok.
Practically for me, this looks like this: I’m running along with my list of things that I think need to be done, and I try to start with a prayer for God to do what He wills with today and thanking Him that He is big enough to handle whatever comes because I’m definitely not. Then, throughout the day, He is faithful to bring the interruptions that remind me that my plan is not necessarily the best thing. My daughter wants to play or read a book with me. I get a call from a person in crisis at the hospital (and not every one of these is something I’m called to incidentally—I’ve got to listen to God’s voice in that or I go because I’m trying to prove I’m worthy). I need to do some laundry and my son wants to help me fold—not exactly the fastest process in the world! I know, though, that when I feel like I’m spinning, I’m doing it wrong. That feeling is usually my check that I am pursuing doing things because I think it will make me feel better about myself rather than doing them out of His life source.
What are you missing today because of your obsession with productivity? Would you allow yourself to rest before your God and see His Life through you provide? You might find some really cool stuff you missed in the process.