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!