“In the coming days, I will be sharing some suggestions to help encourage and empower your study.” I remember writing those words, surprisingly weeks ago. I would love to tell you that my time was filled with study; digging into great spiritual depth, but that would be a lie. In the days that followed my last post, church life, family life, even community life became amazingly busy. Significant and meaningful ministry opportunities arose, major family accomplishments were achieved and there were numerous important connections made. Time, however, was all too easily comsumed.
The experience did raise an important question, “How do we make time for study and spiritual growth while living busy, sometimes over-full lives?” There are many tools to help strengthen our study, but if we lack time, how can we put them into practice?
Too often, the responses to this concern are guilt-laden comments about our priorities and commitment; suggesting that if we were only a little more serious and willing to work a little harder, we would not be facing any struggle. The truth is, we can be seriously committed and yet remain challenged in our attempts to achieve what God put on our hearts to do.
Journeying through these past weeks, dreaming of making time for everything, I realized that many things were suffering from my frustration over my inability to fit it all in. Greatest among these were my own peace and the peace of my family. I became aware that I was increasingly defining my life by what I was accomplishing, or not accomplishing. Not only did this increase my frustration, but it is no way to steward the gift of life God gives.
As I sought God in prayer, in the moments I could carve out, the words of John 10:10 kept coming to mind, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” What powerful words from Jesus. He came to give life, not consume it. It was clear that I was sacrificing his gift of being able to fully live to instead, be bound by the trappings of doing things. Instead of celebrating the beauty and wonder of each day, I was buried in my extended list of things to do.
It is true that we all have things that must be done. It is also true that there will be seasons when much will be asked of us and our schedules will be overfull. However, even in these moments, maybe especially in these moments, we must not lose sight of what it means to really live the abundant life of Christ. We may not be able to commit the time we would like to our study, but that is precisely when the study we did in other seasons can bear us up, strengthening and empowering us to find life in our lists of obligations. We will have to make choices, sometimes very difficult ones, about how we use our time, but trading the joy of life for a few tasks completed will never be the right one. Maybe, we simply need to give ourselves a break and trust God.
Wherever you are today, remember you are not alone. God is with you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You have purpose and destiny and more ability than you know. You may not have the time for study and action you originally hoped for, but you have the Holy Spirit who will, as Jesus said, “remind you of all that I [Jesus] said to you and teach you everything,” and who will give you all the power you need.