Here it is September again. Time to get back to work, time to leave the lazy days of August behind and get back into the rat race. School is in full swing which means parent–teacher meetings, after school sports and activities, Bible studies at church and small group meetings. It’s time to seriously get day timers in order and juggle schedules so that everything fits someplace. Then there’s the challenge of monitoring the kids homework, putting an appetizing meal on the table for a family dinner if that’s possible between the after-work and extracurricular activities, answering your email, checking Facebook and starting on that book your pastor recommends that everyone read. And don’t forget to get some exercise in each day, and of course your quiet time with the Lord. Most of all, you need to keep your priorities straight…God first, family second, work and church come next, then parents and parents-in-law, pets and your neighbors. Does this sound familiar?
As the stress level of our busy lives builds up, we struggle to be a good steward of our time. Our intentions, we believe, are good. The fast paced culture in which we participate here in South Florida and most metropolitan areas of our country demand that we be able to step into the electronic and digital world in order to conduct our lives prolifically and our work profitably. No matter that these modern miracles, offspring of the computer age into which many of us were not born, have made our lives far more stressful , even as they have made us so much more efficient. We are required to be efficient not only in our work place, but in our home office, our Culture, our communication with friends and relatives and even our leisure moments (when we can find them). That may mean taking a course, reading another long instruction book, or when all else fails, recruiting the nearest preteen to help.
2,000 years ago, Saul, originally a Pharisaical zealot, after his catalytic experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus, must have found the complexities of overturning a mindset that he had nurtured throughout his lifetime overwhelming. It meant obliterating and adjusting all of his priorities and embarking on an untried and immensely difficult project…his new career. He was now “Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father.” And while he was traveling throughout the Mediterranean world with the gospel, he also made the decision to support himself by tent making in order to be a good example of self-discipline to his new converts. What would his daily planner have looked like? How did he prioritize his life?
No wonder Paul wrote these words in his letter to the Corinthians, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win” (1Corinthians 9:24)! He also encouraged the recipients of his letter to the Hebrews with “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12: 1). He repeated this theme in writing to Timothy, as he sensed that he was nearing the end of his time on earth, stating, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy: 4:7).
Obviously, Paul believed that he was in a race, running to get the prize, and he encouraged us to do likewise. Then if that is part of the good News Jesus wanted him to share, what about these words of Jesus: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)?
It seems clear that Jesus is giving us a provision which will help us endure the race. It is not a physical rest from all the frenetic activities in our lives. As usual, He was speaking about a rest that goes far deeper … deeper into the soul and originating from the spirit. He is saying that as long as we run our lives according to the culture in which we live, we will sooner or later run out of fuel. Jesus warned us against the dangers of loving the world and reminded us that He is the light of the world. In all our good works and heroic efforts to live good and fruitful lives, there must be His light, His truth – that is the fuel. That is where we find rest and refreshment, revelation and repentance, clarity and vision and most of all the strength to go on.
That is why the most important and valuable entry into our day timer should be “time to seek the Lord”. We must make that a priority. We do that by daily Bible study, worship, pouring out our heart to the Lord, repenting and then listening. The process may be different each day, but until we find that rest that Jesus spoke about, we may be on our own in this race through life. There is no substitute for that refreshing and encouragement that we receive from the Lord. Our reward is the same one Paul sought, “And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Judy Lokits may be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org .