My schedule like that of many, many people today is proving to be so crushingly crowded that I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed. It isn’t simply the number of things to do but also the diversity of things that need to be done. So little connects these things that making sufficient prioritization of those competing “to do’s” is more like juggling a dozen flying China dishes than a nice, neat process that always works as it should.
My oldest son learned to do a little bit of real juggling several years ago – a feat that I was never able to manage. The skill necessary to do so was simply beyond my ability.
Juggling multiple responsibilities and demands isn’t an easy feat either. In fact, in our mad effort to try to keep a dozen plates in the air, we often lose sight of the fact that some plates we are tossing up are plates that we definitely don’t want to drop.
Just think about it a moment! Would you want to risk your great-great-great-grandmother’s ultra-rare banquet dish that came over from the “Old World” and has been in the family for generations? If you could juggle plates, would you allow that family heirloom to be treated as if it were as common as the inexpensive dishes you could easily replace in a quick trip back to Wally-World?
I doubt it. But that is the very thing we do with the treasures of God. Chief among such treasures is the intimacy with God that Jesus’ atonement has purchased for us through the cross of Calvary.
In a lifestyle of juggling too many activities and responsibilities the one plate we (at best) try to juggle as if it were one among many, or (at worst) the one we drop altogether, is the one that is the most precious of all: that of attending to our relationship with God through private time with Him in the reading of His Word (the Bible) and in prayer. The second plate that we often endanger or neglect is maintaining time with and for our family and the third is that of corporate worship and service with other Christians.
These are three plates that we should neither keep in the air with the others nor drop them from the focus of our efforts and energies. We should treat them as non-negotiables, holding them near and dear to our hearts as well as at the top of our schedules.
But, again, the chief “plate” that we should guard and cherish is that personal relationship that Jesus died to grant us. Frankly, all other plates are expendable in comparison. I am not saying that they are not important but that if keeping these other plates in the air means letting go of one that is in truth of more value, then we must learn to say no to even the “good” things that steal away our devotion to God.
Jesus replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 ESV).
Love for someone, especially God, is not measured by good intentions but by the choices that we make. The time that we spend is our own to choose how to spend. If we spend no time with God then we are basically saying that we do not love God more than the other things that have crowded Him out of our lives. If you’re like me, that realization is definitely an uncomfortable one. Schedules that are too busy to make time for God are the non-verbal messages that we send to Him that we just do not love Him all that much.
We must therefore start right now to make time with Him a top priority. Get up fifteen minutes earlier so you can read some in His Word! You’ll be amazed at how you’ll suddenly begin to hear Him speak to you if you’ll simply give Him the time of day! Make serving Him and worshiping Him in the company of other Believers your Sunday non-negotiable (no matter how tempting it is to sleep in and catch up on the rest you missed earlier in the week). Give God a “first fruit” offering of your time and trust Him to bless you (not necessarily with monetary gain, but with spiritual riches of grace and strength, joy and peace).
Are you worried that doing so might mean you drop some of the other plates you’ve been trying to keep in the air? If you drop one or two, so what? At least the non-negotiable priority of your relationship with the Lord will still be there to help you put in perspective those things you spent so much time worrying about needlessly. This is why I think Jesus tells us not to worry.
“I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 ESV).
The modern-day equivalents of this passage may indeed still be worrying over food or clothing, but would also likely include our children’s well-being (even if we don’t get them into every sport this year), our yards and houses (even if we can’t manage to get that new paint job, or our not receiving that promotion at work (which would mean going from a fifty hour work week to a sixty-five hour one even if we got it).
Remember that Jesus teaches us to keep things simple and keep our lives focused upon Him. A little juggling is all right as long as we don’t lose track of what matters most. And what matters most is our relationship with God and the legacy of spiritual fruitfulness that He desires to cultivate within us, for ourselves, our children, and our neighbors. Make God the “main thing” in your life and then trust Him with the details.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 ESV).
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 21 ½ years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.