Is a busy schedule the sign of purpose or a lack of priority? Each week I hear people talking about their busy schedules in a variety of ways. Some lament days when the pace of life seemed easier, others speak of a packed calendar with a sense of purpose and even pride. While we may lament a packed scheduled, we also attribute a busy life with personal value, a life well-lived, or some other positive, external attribution. The Book of Common Prayer, on page 836, contains a Prayer for Thanksgiving that poignantly addresses the human drive for activity:
Thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
Each of us have been blessed by God with talents, abilities, and desires God intends to be a blessing, to ourselves and to others. Jesus tells us not to put our ‘light under a bushel’ but to bring the light of God’s grace within us to lighten a dark and forbidding world. And this light, as the saying goes, “It is not in some of us, it is in all of us.” So how do we balance shining our light and using our gifts with God’s command to seek respite in the Sabbath? We profess to believe that God has created us and yet when it comes to how we live, it is often our focus on God that takes last place. It is so easy to immerse ourselves in work, kid’s activities, and assorted other busy pursuits as a way of feeling alive, valuable, and fulfilled. We work overtime, buy the new toys, and spend our days moving from here to there and back again.
Is it working? Do we feel a deep sense of fulfillment and peace? Or does our hectic schedule hang like a weight around our necks? For those of us who love Jesus, this never ending cycle of desire and seeking can be healed and redeemed. We may still live busy lives, but the internal feelings of inadequacy, searching without finding, and the need to feel valued or affirmed by external means is no longer so intense. Knowing that we are created in God’s image means knowing that we have a foundational relationship with the source of all life. Our lives are best lived in concert with our source, living the dominical commands (commands of Jesus) by loving God with all that we are and loving our neighbor as ourselves, a fragrant offering of hope, peace, and never-failing love for ourselves and for all those we encounter.
As Henri Nouwen says, our value is realized by being God’s beloved child and is a value untainted by our fears, external fulfillment, or our failings. The above prayer from the Book of Common Prayer continues by saying,
We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
A busy schedule does not make our life either valuable or good; the goodness of our lives comes from the source of our be-ing; opening our hearts to divine love as God’s beloved children. Regardless how we feel about the balance of our lives, it is not too late. Today is an opportunity to prioritize our schedule, to open our hearts to love, to service, and to the life-giving joy that comes from be-ing a be-loved Child of God. What delights your soul? What reminds you most of God’s love for you? When was the last time you felt ‘satisfied,’ ‘delighted,’ or ‘acknowledged your dependence on God alone?” This is a day that God has made…let us rejoice and delight in the saving love of our creator!