Thursday, April 29, 2010

busyness, burnout and the grace of God (3b) time and eternity

This post continues from last week's post on busyness and time.

What I'm learning.*
See last week's post for points 1-5.

8. My life is like the grass that the wind blows away (Ps 103:15-16)...
This has been a humbling realisation for me. I'm ashamed to admit that part of me longs to do something of such significance for God that I'll be remembered after I die. What an empty goal, and how unlikely! Most of us won't be remembered beyond a couple of generations - if that! - and this is the way it should be. My life is short and soon over. It's God's name, not mine, that will be remembered, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

9. ... but eternity is forever.
Why try to pack everything into this life when I have eternity in store? Why live for this fragile, fleeting life rather than eternity? I'm finite, I'm human, and I can't have every experience, realise every potential, use every gift, or fulfil every dream during this life, whatever the world tells me! I have eternity ahead of me to enjoy these things (and I'm not going to care if I don't do everything I've ever dreamed of in heaven - I'll have better things to do!). I want to spend this life serving Jesus and living for eternity, rather than running around trying to fit everything in now.*

6. There is grace in waiting ...
I want everything now, but God often calls me to wait. It's not a virtue we're very good in these days of instant everything! But as I wait, refusing to give in to self-pity and impatience, I practise quiet trust in God's wisdom and provision. I want things now: but God teaches me to wait on him and trust him to bring good things in his own time and in his own way. God is good, and his timing is perfect.**

7. ... and now may be a time for waiting.
My life is finite, and I can't do everything I'd like to do - although, like a child in a lolly shop, I'd like to be able to taste everything now! Now may not be the time for many of the opportunities I'm given. Now is often a time for saying "no", and focusing on things of first importance, like caring for the people God has given me to love. There'll be time for other ministries later on - or perhaps not. That's in God's hands! In the meantime, I'm learning to weigh up the choices, to make wise decisions, to pace myself, and to be patient, knowing that during this life, God will give me enough time to do the work he wants me to do.

10. My significance doesn't come from my life's story, but from being part of God's story.
My life on earth is short and my story is quickly over. Only God lasts forever. The story that matters is the story of his Son. If my life has significance, it's not from doing great things, but from being caught up in God's bigger story. I'm a mum, and that means serving Jesus in a small, unseen sphere. For others, serving Jesus means going to work every day, caring for a sick husband, or staying faithful in singleness. As I serve Jesus faithfully, even if no-one ever sees, I'm doing work that will last and playing my part in God's bigger story.*

*These insights come from Tim Chester The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness chapter 12. So this post is really an extended meditation on Chester's book, which I found profoundly helpful as I reflected on the topic of time.
*Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity has taught me a lot about the blessedness of waiting.

images are by aussiegall, Theorris, m4r00n3d and Carlos Porto at flickr


jennifer said...

It has been really encouraging and helpful to read what you have been learning through your experience of burnout and busyness. I have been motivated to buy Tim chester's book and also plan to give it to a friend. Thanks for being willing to share your struggles and what you are learning through them.

Jean said...

Thanks, Jennifer, I'm glad you're finding the series helpful. Sorry it took me a couple of days to respond to your comment - my computer's been acting up! I hope you and your friend find the book helpful. Love Jean.