He made rabbits appear out of nowhere. He seemed to read minds. He pulled colorful bouncy balls out from behind children’s ears.
The magician at our local library amazed my kids, particularly my middle daughter who checked out four books on magic that day and altered her future career plans.
“I want to be a magician who tells jokes,” she declared.
Today, I am feeling a little like a magician without the recognition and the jokes. No fabulously mysterious cape, no collapsible magic wand hiding a bouquet of flowers, no long flowing sleeves to stash cards and colorful scarves, and no top hat from which bunnies appear. My Mom-attire is much less impressive.
And yet, every year at about this time, I perform a seemingly magical feat that defies all explanation, a trick that doesn’t necessarily astonish audiences, but probably should.
I set the family calendar for the new school year.
Astonished? Amazed? Flabbergasted? Speechless?
Maybe you should be.
Or maybe you’ve been waving your own Mom magic wand over the calendar and performing your own special trick for years. You deserve a round of applause, too.
Even those of you without kids or with grown children can easily find your calendar as overstuffed as ours.
Of course, there are things outside of my control, like the school schedule and when ballet classes are offered. So, I wait for official announcements and postings, hoping God performs the necessary miracle to make it all fit just right.
Then I sit down and scan the mess.
There are non-negotiable activities that instantly earn a place on the weekly agenda.
There are the things I believe God has asked me to do this year, which I choose to obey.
There are requests from my kids like, “Please will you pick us up from school each day so we don’t have to take a 45-minute bus ride to our home, which is only 7 minutes from the school.”
There are the “Oh please, mommy . . . .” activities like gymnastics, soccer, swimming lessons, 4H, Girl Scouts, fencing (yes, fencing), art and sewing classes. This we carefully narrow down, allowing each child one activity at a time.
Then there are the 50 other possibilities that are wonderful and good: The Bible studies, prayer meetings, committees, volunteering, and classes I’d do.
When we think we’ve made it all fit, unexpected birthday parties and get-togethers, after school activities, and events squeeze into the corners of Saturdays and evenings.
Of course, it’s all good. And maybe, just maybe, if I don’t let my kids take swim lessons every time they are offered my daughter won’t make it to the 2024 Olympics. That would obviously be the world’s loss.
But today, as I was reading in 1 Corinthians, I was reminded of the one thing that sometimes gets nudged out of our lives by the incessant activity we magically jam, cram, and squeeze into our calendars until they burst.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV).
Even if we invest our time in everything good and noble, we might be mis-managing our calendars.
Ultimately, speaking God’s language, knowing God’s Word, giving away to the poor, and sacrificing our very lives are all worthy, but even they are utterly meaningless if we don’t do them in love.
So then, what about committee meetings and weekly groups and gymnastics lessons?
Yes, meaningless without love.
Thus, I’ve been praying this year about leaving room for God’s love in our family calendar.
We’ll do what is necessary, what God has asked us to do, and we’ll love our children by allowing them to (within reason) develop gifts and talents God has given them.
And then I’ll refuse to feel guilty for declining to do every other good thing that comes my way.
I want to leave some breathing room for taking meals to the sick and for hospital visits. Nights off as a family so I can enjoy my kids’ character, not just their hobbies. Time in my day for last-minute ministry opportunities and helping a friend.
I want the freedom to love others without it destroying a to-do list or rigid schedule. I don’t want official “ministry” to prevent me from ministering to those in need.
After all, in the end, Paul tells us that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). Love doesn’t require magic, but it does require time.
How do you manage your busy calendar and decide what to do and what not to do?
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.