Seven months into parenthood, I knew something had to change. I had expected the diaper changes, the snotty noses, even the sleepless nights; but I had not anticipated the frustration, the fear, or the perpetual feeling of falling behind.
I woke up one morning to my daughter babbling in her crib. As I laid there for several minutes, willing her to go back to sleep, I began thinking through everything that needed to be done that day: dishes, laundry, errands, bills. As I ticked each item off, a familiar sense of being overwhelmed settled into my heart. There was so much to do and never enough time to do it. I could barely manage the baby, much less the rest of my home. “Lord”, I whispered out loud, “I am so tired. How am I going to get it all done today?”
Quietly He answered, “Wake up and spend time with Me.”
Everything within me pushed back against this gentle invitation: I am exhausted, I can’t afford to lose another hour of sleep. Anyway, if I am going to wake up before the baby, I probably need to spend that time addressing the overflowing basket of laundry, not just sitting there.
Eventually, I got up, got the baby, and started my coffee; but, His offer lingered like a pebble in my shoe for the rest of the day. And, to be honest, the more I considered this absurd suggestion, the more it seemed in line with God’s economy. You see, in the Kingdom of God the last will be first (Matt 20:16), to save your life you must lose it (Luke 17:33), and to be rich you must give up your possessions (Luke 18:22). So it follows that when I asked Him how I could be more productive, He answered with, “Come be still.”
To the world, and exhausted young mothers, spending time with God may seem counterproductive, but according to God, our ability to do anything depends on our spending time with Him.
In his book Crafting a Rule of Life, Stephen Macchia puts it this way, “…God invites us into an intimate relationship with Him, which means we need to regularly say no to productivity and instead “waste” a few productive hours simply attending to God.” Another favorite quote of mine is Martin Luther, who said, “I have so much to do I shall spend the first three hours in prayer!” What a perspective shift!
I eventually trusted the Lord with my time and gave Him the first hour of my day; and, while I still felt fatigued, I was no longer running on empty. I was able to operate out of the overflow of my heart and soon found there was ample grace for my to-do list.
Where do you sit on the continuum of overwhelm? Do you, like me, wish there were more hours in the day? Are you frantic to accomplish all that is before you? Consider this rule of God’s Kingdom today: In order to bear fruit, you must abide in Him. To be productive, you must be still. Sit in His presence each morning and offer your schedule to him. Ask Him to order your steps and fill your heart. I promise you, those will be the most productive moments of your day.
Lord, we confess we have been ruled by our love of productivity. Our desire is to ring every ounce of efficiency we can out of the day, but you have shown us a better way to live. Grant us the ability to understand and to live by the rules of your Kingdom rather than those of our culture. Help us to seek you before we seek to accomplish even one item on our to-do list. For we can do nothing without you, Lord. Amen.