“How was your day?”
It’s my husband’s first question to me at the end of his work day every single evening.
This answer used to be easier. How was my day? Mostly that depended on work. How much I accomplished, how difficult the tasks were, how successful I was, how many goals I’d met, and how well I juggled Mom-life with the job.
But now he asks, and I stumble and stutter. How to answer a question that’s always been objective and quantifiable?
What makes a day good now? Do I share my excitement over a new homemade bread recipe or the smell of the from-scratch spaghetti sauce bubbling away in the crock-pot? Does vacuuming count as an accomplishment (it is, after all, on my to-do list)? Do grocery store savings and coupon clipping validate me as a home manager? Should I count the number of socks I matched and folded?
And beyond that, beyond all the tasks and tedium, how was my day relationally? 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 even beyond that, if I close my day without any measurable way to evaluate my productivity at all, could the day still be “good?”
If I’ve listened to a hurting friend spill out all the ugly and the pain on the phone or if I’ve collapsed at the kitchen table with tea and my Bible and lingered there out of desperate dehydration and an aching hunger for His presence….does this mean today I have failed?
This slide into a works-based life tricks and deceives. I don’t feel the gradual move from grace to law, don’t sense that I’ve shifted from relational priorities to measurable productivity.
But then someone asks about me, about my day, and I hear my own words and I know it for what it is: My value has become dependent on the items crossed off my 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.
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).
It’s not that busyness itself is sin. Sometimes busyness is just life with a job, a ministry, a husband, or kids. Chances are you’re busy. Chances are you get tired sometimes.
When Jesus commissioned the disciples for activity, they traveled for weeks of uncomfortable, on-foot missionary service to towns where they weren’t always well-received (Luke 9). They weren’t overloading themselves with busyness; they were serving in obedience, following Jesus’ specific instructions about the journey.
Yet, they were tired.
When they returned home, “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.
Our need is the same.
But it begins here. Not what did I accomplish, do, or achieve? My good day begins with simply this: Did I do what God wanted me to do today?
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 whether He’s sending us out or asking 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
God alone can determine the value of our day, the need for productivity at times or 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?
Others might glance at your calendar and think, “She’s too busy” or “She’s such a slacker.” But it’s not up to them.
It’s up to Him.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer 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. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King