A few days ago I read this article from the True Woman blog. At the end of the post, the author asks, “What are some ways you can submit your busyness to the Lord and invite Him to make you more productive?” I thought I would take a stab at answering that question, as I have recently participated in a “tree trimming session” of my own, through the guidance of my heavenly Father. (I am running with the tree illustration from the original article, so it will help if you’ve read that first!)
So, how does one submit her or her busyness to the Lord?
1. Stop defining my ‘trees’. My angst was evident as the Lord tried to help me see that, at the root of my frustration with my productivity level, there was the assumption that I was permitted to define my own ‘trees’. By this, I mean that I had decided what was important. And if I evaluated my heart with honesty I saw that I was approaching God to organize the things that I thought were important — not asking Him what was aligned with His priorities for my life. Additionally, I was asking Him to prune away what wasn’t important, but then I wasn’t engaging my mind to see where He might lead me to cut an activity. At the end, He helped me to see that my desire was actually to continue in my current pattern, but to do it “in His strength”. I didn’t want to do the hard work of discerning which ‘trees’ He would have me cut down, and which ones He would have me water, nurture, and grow into something more substantial. This was selfishness and pride, an abuse of God’s graciousness toward me. He helped me to see that He is the definer of my ‘trees’.
2. Evaluate what it is I’m called to do. When it comes to discerning the call of God, some things are very clear. I am married and I am employed, therefore the Lord has called me to be a wife and homemaker and, for the time being, a teacher. The Father has saved me by the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, therefore I am called to joyfully live according to the edicts of His Kingdom and tell others about the Good News. I am to do all things to the glory of God in heaven. I am a member of a local church, and certainly joy-filled responsibilities come with that commitment. I am a daughter, granddaughter, sister, and friend. Already, this is quite a list of callings! The Lord has placed me in each of these roles, and they keep me quite busy. When it comes to adding more responsibility on top of these — which, by the way, my Type-A personality tries to do on a regular basis — it is a necessity that I consult the Lord. This brings us to point three.
3. Discern the Lord’s definitions for my ‘trees’. As Evan & I walked through the decision process regarding our move to Louisville, the Lord taught me a lot about how a local body of believers should function. While it’s possible the Lord could communicate to us in a dream what He has ordained, this isn’t typically how the Lord communicates His will to His people. The Word was breathed out from the very lips of God, and provides all we need for life and godliness. Failing to consult the Lord’s primary means of revealing Himself to us would be a grave error, indeed! We should also be in prayer regarding any decision we make. But, a step believers often omit is seeking wise counsel from those in the body of believers to which we have committed. Why should we do this? Because sin is deceitful. Because, as John Calvin says, our hearts are idol factories. Because we don’t know everything. Because we can’t see every angle. Because we are bent toward selfish gain. Because we are easily swayed by the world around us. Because a war of enormous spiritual magnitude wages around us. We must test our desires against Scripture, the revelation of the wisdom of God. We must examine our motives to determine if we are acting out of joyful obedience to the Lord or joyful enslavement to our pleasure-seeking flesh. As the Lord identifies and names our ‘trees’, we might not like their shape — or the fact that He is cutting down one of our most prized ‘trees’. Wise counsel will help us identify our idols and maintain a grateful heart for the responsibilities to which the Lord has called us.
Once I identified the responsibilities that are important to my Father in heaven, was it easy to move forward? Not necessarily, but I have been able to find joy in obeying what I have discerned is His will for my life. Even when the day is long, the task is mundane, or the relationship is difficult, I can call upon the Lord for His strength in obedience. And when He calls us, He will equip us. Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Soli Deo gloria!
Before we begin this thought-journey, I must admit that my musings on this topic aren’t complete. I have given it substantial consideration and prayer, though, and I believe that the Lord is leading me to a conviction. That said, if you have biblical counsel to offer on this topic, I am open and ready to hear it.
In 2004, I remember a swirl of controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Having been a believer for only a year, I didn’t pay much attention to the voices shouting from any particular camp because I had yet to construct a biblical framework for such a discussion. What I knew for sure was that watching a human actor pretend to be the Son of God seemed uncomfortable. Could I have told you why? No. But the release of Son of God – and my similar (but stronger) reaction – has prompted me to consider what it is that draws me away from movies of this nature. And with so many Christian voices saying so many conflicting things about the film, it seemed prudent to draw a conclusion about my own participation in such a theatrical release.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
I realize that this is one in a specific list of commandments given to the nation of Israel, not to mankind, and certainly not to those united to Christ in the church age. Even so, all of God’s commandments, regardless of the audience, reveal something about God’s character and his expectations for all of his adopted children, and are thus worthy of our careful consideration. As a believer, as one unified with Christ, the Law of God is written on my heart (Ps. 40:8, Heb. 10:16). Therefore, my new God-given desire is to please Him by walking in obedience to His precepts. So when the LORD makes it clear that He abhors idolatry, I must tread very carefully. What constitutes an idol? What constitutes worship?
An idol is anything that draws our worship and affections away from God. To be clear, by ‘God’ I mean the God whose holy name and character we find in Scripture, not God as we want Him to be. The moment my eyes shift but one millimeter from the True God of the Bible, I am an idolater. And this is where I begin to struggle with movies like those mentioned above.
I remember the first time I saw a trailer for The Passion of the Christ. When my eyes looked upon the face of the actor playing Jesus, my heart leapt. Why? Because my Savior, whom I’ve never met in a physical way, suddenly had been put to flesh. “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” said Thomas. Was my heart saying this same thing as ‘Jesus’ stood in front of my eyes, and suddenly faith seemed . . . easier?
That man wasn’t my Savior at all! He is a fallen sinner, just like me, yet my heart responded in the desire to worship him. In a split second, my idol-making heart produced a bright, shiny new one out of Jim Caviezel.
My concern goes far beyond the physical image when it comes to motion pictures. A still image is problematic enough, but the moment that image begins to move and speak, with facial expressions, voice inflections, gestures, and touches, we are necessarily adding to who God has revealed Himself to be and inciting our hearts to worship something other than God.
This is dangerous territory.
Is it possible for one to sit through a movie like The Passion or Son of God and not experience raging idolatry? Perhaps. But apparently I can’t, and I’m not willing to give the Accuser a foothold for the sake of entertainment.
Soli Deo gloria!