Sunday January 29, 2017 | David Morrow
Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons.
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”
Sometimes time doesn’t feel like such a gift. In fact if we’re not living in right relatedness with how God intended us to function, it can feel much more like a burden. Throughout history technology innovations have made false promises about giving more time back to their users, but in fact we have as many distractions as ever to keep us from living the simple, undistracted, others oriented life God calls us to. In this message we explore what can be done to take back control of how we’re living our life and spending our time so we don’t fall in to temptations that lead to getting our life from how busy we are.
With both time and money, when we hoard and think only inwardly we lose our right relatedness with God who is himself outpouring and generous. In reality time should feel more like a gift and less like a burden to manage. Part of the problem is that very few of us actually know where our time goes. We are defined by our busyness moving from one task to the next very rarely stopping to ask what direction life is headed, or what type of person do I want to become and is how I’m spending my time helping or hindering that pursuit.
When asked what is the most important in enabling living the Christian life, the author and theologian Dallas Willard said we need to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our life.” His idea is that if we can’t do that, the game is already over. There is a depth to life that doesn’t get experienced when we’re merely skimming the surface bouncing from one task and appointment to the next. The evidence of how common an issue this is can be seen when thinking about one of the most common responses to the question “how are you doing,” or “how are things going?” Most peoples’ responses include something to the effect of “Things are good. I’m just so busy.”
Many people, especially in the American culture have taken the idea of being driven and placed it above all other virtues. We have to be honest and admit when we’re overloaded and have not done well at saying no and creating healthy boundaries in our life. To do this effectively we absolutely need others we’ve given permission to come around us and lovingly speak truth in to our lives about our schedules.
In reading the Exodus story, one can see Moses struggling with some of these same aspects of seeming indispensability that many in today’s culture struggle with. Moses was confronted by his father in law Jethro about a blind spot Moses couldn’t see in regards to how he was interacting with his followers. Moses was saying yes to a lot of good things but could have possibly been missing out some more important things that God wanted to use him to accomplish with his people.
When thinking of life as a bucket, and the time commitments of life as water, sand, and rocks of varying sizes depending on their importance, it becomes clear that the order in which the rocks are put in the bucket is of crucial to ensure the big important rocks fit. The big rocks don’t fit if they aren’t put in first. This is true with our time and why we need to heed Jesus’ words in Matt 6:33 to “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The order in which we fill our time matters. It’s how we show what we value and where our priorities are. We don’t drift in to this kingdom life, it only happens by intentionality.
A few practical practices and takeaways:
1. Practice slowing and Solitude – if you never let the tension release, you’ll eventually break. To practice try things like taking the scenic route on your next road trip, purposefully stand in the longer line at the grocery store letting others go in front of you, or only drive in the right lane on the road for a couple days. Don’t try to increase your capacity, but rather learn to say no. In solitude we remove all our scaffolding so it’s just me, without any titles. This is scary but can also bring great freedom.
2. Plan for interruptions – many of the “distractions” or “interruptions” in Jesus’ life turned in to his more profound teaching or healing moments. We must learn to create margin in our life. We need space between our load and our limits, something in the reserve tank for the sake of others.
3. We need to put the big rocks in first – it helps to calendar out our days, weeks, and months to make sure we’re actually prioritizing our time in a way that aligns with our values. We all want to live out of who we want to be become, not out of what we want to get done. We want to keep life as a mission statement where we’re getting our marching orders and life from Christ, not as a to do list where we judge our success based on what we get done.