“How was your day?”
My husband asks me that every evening as we chat on the phone while he commutes home from work.
It used to be easier to answer. How was my day? Well, it seemed mostly dependent on work. What jobs I did that day, what doctors had I transcribed for, how difficult the task was, how productive I had managed to be, and how well I had juggled working from home with being a mom.
But now it’s more difficult to respond. Do I share my excitement over the homemade bread recipe I discovered or the smell of the from-scratch spaghetti sauce bubbling away in the crock-pot? Does vacuuming count as an accomplishment? What about how much I saved at the grocery store with my coupons or how many socks I matched and folded?
And beyond that, relationally how was my day? How many squabbles did I break up between my daughters? How many lessons did I teach, conversations did I have, kisses did I bestow, Barbies did I undress and dress?
And beyond even that, without any way to measure my productivity at all, could my day still be a success? How do you value listening on the phone to a hurting friend or spending extra time at my kitchen table digging into God’s Word?
There’s a simple slide into a works-based life where measurable productivity is all that matters. Where our success and value becomes dependent on the items crossed off our to-do list.
It’s the pitfall for working moms, the trap for single women in the workforce, and the snare of stay-at-home moms whose identity becomes tangled up with their children and the cleanliness of their home.
We all fall in the pit some time.
In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper reminds us that God “cares far more about the posture of our hearts than our productivity. Even “good” things can become the enemy of God’s best for us” (p. 114).
That doesn’t mean busyness is sin. If you have a job, or a ministry, or a husband, or kids—any of those or all of the above—chances are you’re busy. Chances are you get tired sometimes.
We have a way of judging that in the church. “If you’re tired, it means you aren’t doing what God called you to do.” “If you’re worn out, it’s because you’re not relying enough on God’s joy.” “If you just lead the simple life, you’d be fine.”
Jesus didn’t throw those judgmental millstones around the neck of the disciples. He commissioned them for activity, sending them out for weeks of uncomfortable, on-foot missionary traveling to towns where they weren’t always well-received (Luke 9).
Were they busy? Yes, absolutely. Every day they moved to another place to tell others about Jesus, sleeping in who knows what conditions and eating anything they were offered.
Were they doing God’s will? Surely they were. Jesus had sent them out with specific instructions about what to take with them and what to do on their journey.
Were they traveling alone? No! They went out in pairs so that they had the support and encouragement of a Christ-following companion.
They did everything right, and yet they were tired. When they returned home from their journey, “Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near the town called Bethsaida” (Luke 9:10, MSG).
He knew they needed time away. Alone time with Jesus. That’s what we need to refresh our busy souls also.
But first we also ask ourselves—are we doing God’s will? Here we pause.
The Lord promised, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), but if we just keep throwing on the same burdensome loads, we’ll never feel truly rested. That’s the weighed-down fatigue we choose when we do and do and do rather than obeying Him when He tells us to act and obeying when He asks us to rest.
Oswald Chambers wrote:
An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.
We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others
The bottom line question for us remains, “Are we doing God’s will?” God alone can determine the value of our day, the need for productivity at times versus the requirement of rest in other seasons.
If He has told you to rest, are you resting? If He has asked you to work, are you working? Are you serving in the ministries to which you are called and caring for your family in the way He has instructed?
Others might glance at your calendar and think, “She’s too busy” or “She’s such a slacker.” The only One who really knows, though, is the One who commissions us and then offers us the rest we need exactly when we need it.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King