After just a few weeks my diary is beginning to fill up rapidly and like many others I am already finding that if I let it, being a Minister could take up every hour of every day. There is never a clear end and there is always something else that could be done. The difficult task is to contain the amount there is to do into a manageable place and remember the words of a very wise friend “most important, keep what’s most important, most important.”
Modern people tend to live full lives. We fill our houses and garages with important stuff, fill our credit cards with important purchases, fill our calendars with important commitments, fill our thoughts with important problems, and fill in the gaps with important leisure. Then we too often find we have too little space for God, too little time for others, and too little energy to care.
We fill our Church lives with commitment after commitment and leave ourselves in a place where we often don’t have the time to be really committed to any of the things we do. Wouldn’t it be better for each of us to live deeply, to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the things that God truly calls us to, and then to have the energy to do those things really well?
Leviticus 19:9 says “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.”
The scriptures are full of examples of how God led his people to preserve ‘margins’ in everyday life—keeping the Sabbath, leaving some of the harvest for gleaning, and setting aside routines for annual feasts and “holy-days.” God instituted marginal time and space for his people
Jesus' first invitation to all who would believe in him is to "Come, follow me." Slowing down and creating space for God and for others is perhaps, the first expression of trust in God, of following Jesus, the first step of discipleship, and the starting point of a life of purpose and power.
Jesus’ life and ministry was busy, but he was never too busy to take time alone and to spend time in prayer. Taking time and space with God and praying about the direction he wants us to take will lead to greater rewards than all of us being too busy, doing too many things and doing them half-heartedly. It is in the slowing down and letting go of the things that are less important, that we will be set free. Free to hear what God wants us to do, free to care better for those around us and free to care better for ourselves.
The spiritual disciplines of prayer, quiet, meditation on God’s word, and fasting allow us to reserve margins for God. Each one of us is called to do something to help “God’s Kingdom Come”, on earth as it is in heaven, here in the place that we live. God has a purpose and a calling for each of us, a job that suits our own individual gifts and graces.
Make a bold stand, let go of one ‘less important’ thing or activity this week, or every week this month and instead, take that time and energy to spend time alone with God, praying for his direction both for yourself and for the direction of this church as we face the future together and so will I.
Maybe, in the quiet, we will hear Jesus calling us to follow him, to go to places we would have never thought of going on our own, to do things we have never considered doing before, to take risks for the Kingdom, and to do all the things we do, so well and with such enthusiasm, that everyone one around us will see the love of God shining from this place.