Recently I was at the beach, and I noticed a rather funny sight. Standing at the edge of the ocean was a small white bird searching for food in the sand. He would rummage through the sand until the waves would rush toward him; in which case, he would run toward the shore as fast as he could, fully incorporating his tiny little legs, in order to escape the rushing water. As soon as the waves would recede back into the massive ocean, the little bird would quickly run back into the freshly washed sand to search for food again. But unfortunately, as soon as he arrived at his rummaging spot, the waves would rush in again sending him running for his life. He spent the entire time running back and forth trying to get food then trying to escape the waves. He worked so hard but with nothing to show for it. I stood there for several minutes smiling at the bizarre predicament this little creature had found himself in when it suddenly dawned on me…I was the busy little bird. I spend a great deal of time running to take care of the everyday tasks that can consume my life, running to manage all of the responsibilities and expectations that surround me, running to locate the dreams that are set before me, and running to accomplish everything that my mind has stored. All the while, I am running to escape and avoid the pitfalls and disasters that rush in to engulf me. At times it feels as though I work so hard with nothing to show for it.
The problem for this little bird was his positioning. Other birds were content to sit atop the waves and wait for their food to come along. Others were peacefully soaring above, patiently waiting for their opportunity to strike. And still others were calmly walking along the shore, well away from the rushing waves, picking up the food that was made available to them. All of these creatures were waiting, soaring, and walking in their purpose, and they did not have to seek out the opportunities because the opportunities were coming to them. They were positioned away from the continual motion of the waves; therefore, they were safe from the dangers. They were not running in futility, but peacefully walking in their purpose. It was all about their position. Unlike the rest, this little bird had positioned himself in the busiest, most tumultuous place, and had nothing to show for it. How many times do we position ourselves outside of the presence of God, thus finding ourselves in the middle of busyness, stress, and frustration? We are working harder, but having fewer results, left feeling stressed out and completely frustrated. The harder we work and search, the more frustrated we become.
As a parent and a wife, I often find myself trapped in a sea of busyness, rushing to chauffeur the kids from one place to the next, scrambling to find something to fix for dinner, wrestling with homework problems, and then grappling with the bedtime routine. All the while, I am struggling to find some time with my husband, as well as some much needed moments of solitude. At the end of this busyness, I look around at what appears to be the futility of my actions and wonder, “Am I getting anything done?”
God addressed this very situation with His people in Haggai 1:6. He said, “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” Basically, He was telling His people that you are working yourselves to death, but have nothing to show for it. Why is this happening? God tells us in verse 9, “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.” God sheds some light on their predicament by telling them that this is happening because they have become too busy with their own stuff and forgot about Him. They are trying to accomplish everything themselves and have abandoned His house, His presence. In His presence, there is great joy, supernatural peace, and overwhelming love. There is no striving or stress, no frustration or worry…just Him. When we busy ourselves with Him, then we will see our lives begin to de-clutter. When we seek Him first, we will find greater fruitfulness with less striving. When we position ourselves in His presence, opportunities will seek after us instead of us seeking them. When we take a moment to rest in Him, we will find rest for our weary souls.
It is much easier to busy ourselves with daily activities and mental lists than to busy ourselves with God, but the path is much more difficult. I recently put this notion to the test. The day set before me was one filled with lots of activity and stress. The easier thing to do was to get up early and get started right away, but I knew that I wanted to apply this newly grasped concept of busying myself with God. So I started my morning with praise, not focusing on my deadlines but remembering how good God has been to me. As I went through my daily tasks, I kept my mind busy with thoughts of God and how beautiful this day was He had created. I kept worship music near my ears when possible and near my heart when not. As I approached each difficulty and problem, I quietly asked God for His strength, wisdom, and guidance, choosing not to focus on the problems but on how many times God had come through for me. Each step was different and at times uncomfortable because for so many years I have trained my mind to worry, but I used praise and thankfulness to help me press through. I was completely amazed at how much I accomplished that day with what felt like little effort. It was truly supernatural! Although I would like to pass on the notion that I sailed through my day without a hitch, there were moments when I slid back into my old ways of busyness. But God gave me such a grace, picking me up and putting me back on the path. After experiencing His joy and peace in this new way, I want to live my whole life like this, and I pray that you will feel challenged to do the same. It will take some time to adjust, but God will help you through every step. I believe that it is time for us to position ourselves in God’s presence, and it is time for us to have a “Going out of Busyness” sale.
Carmen McLean, an inspirational speaker and author, uses God’s Word, along with her personal experiences to equip and encourage people from all walks of life. Carmen grew up in a pastor’s home, but drugs and addiction tore her family apart; however, God has taught her how to walk victoriously out of the brokenness of her past and into the freedom that He has given. Her latest projects include, an upcoming book, Daddy’s Little Girl, which brings to light the struggles and restoration from a broken past, and her website, www.livingabove.net, which offers practical help for everyday life.