Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Confessions Of A Former Busybody.

A significant theme in my life recently has been that of time. Perhaps it's because I just turned 20 and realized that mine here on Earth is moving quicker than I believed it to be. Or maybe it's a result of living in two different countries this year and seeing the differences in how it is spent. Whatever the reason, it's been a subject I continue to come back to. I am someone who values productivity greatly and as such believe in using it efficiently. Before my trip I was taking 5 classes, working two jobs (both as a nanny and photographer), serving as an intern through Celebration, leading a community group; all while fundraising and preparing to leave the U.S for two months. I was a glorified busybody without a moment to spare. Even worse, I was proud of that fact.

God began to change my perspective on my " productive lifestyle" within my first few weeks of being in Alajuelita. Life there moves in an altogether different way. Things are simpler, quieter, and more at ease. Although there was plenty to do, the business was of another variety. We were feeding the homeless and the hungry, praying over the sick or clothing children, teaching the Word, and sharing love. It was business with a purpose and with meaning. Everywhere I looked I could see the hand of God moving. The fruit of the labor being done was evident. More so, even in the midst of much responsibility, I found myself being drawn into moments of stillness and rest with Christ. During one team's stay, we had a moment of break before chapel. I went out to the gazebo for some quiet and a moment alone with him. As I sat there listening to music, I began to think of everything it had taken to get to that point. I pondered on the work that had been done, the serving opportunities I'd taken part in, and the accomplishments I had made.  Yet even as I was thinking over all of my efforts, I realized that something was missing. I couldn't find many of those intimate moments with my Savior in any of it. In the midst of that, I felt him speak directly to me, in a soft but stern voice:

"You've forgotten who I am, beloved."

What a statement, huh? It was one that completely stopped me in my tracks. It took a few minutes to sink in but when it did, I found myself heartbroken. I looked at all of the accomplishments I'd just been gloating over, now through the lens of this new revelation, and realized the error of my ways.  Because if I was being honest, I acted not on the motivation of being drawn closer to my maker, but out of unwittingly selfish ambitions. I found solace in being busy. I acted out of the best intentions but had forgotten my purpose. Yes, I loved God. Yes, I sought to please and worship him. But somewhere along the way I had traded the intimacy he craved with me for a sense of accomplishment. I spent hours working for the cause of Christ with few moments dedicated to knowing him. I felt as if, after months of him trying to catch my frantically wandering eyes, I was looking fully into his face for the first time. What I found there was not condemnation but peace; a calm I'd not experienced for a long time. During my stay I came to treasure those hours of rest with God because through them I was reminded of who he was. I also witnessed how he blessed the work I took part in when I made them a priority.

I'm finding myself relearning the same lesson I was taught in Alajuelita in the States. As soon as I landed, the life that I left here quickly met me. Within my first week I was planning on returning to my photography job, babysitting again, and attending wedding festivities all weekend. Those plans were thwarted by sudden sickness, though, so severe I ended up in the emergency room (twice). The past two weeks have been a time of recovery, where in I've found myself physically incapable of doing all that I'd like to. In essence, I've been forced to be still. In that stillness, though, I've been able to journal, read my Bible, and spend the time needed with God to process all that happened these past two months.

During this season of recuperation, I've come to fully appreciate and adhere to the Biblical principle of Sabbath. It is one frequently spoken of but often overlooked, even by myself. Throughout his entire ministry Jesus himself practiced Sabbath; he frequently abandoned the expectant crowds to go and have moments alone with the Father ( Mark 1:35,  Mark 6:45-46, Luke 4:42, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12). If we are to follow his example, then we should do the same. It may not seem practical in the midst of our rushed schedules to stop and to quiet ourselves, but it is a commandment we are specifically given by God ( Psalm 46:10). I think that the thing to remember is that our Father values our time just as much as we do. He requires Sabbath of us more for our benefit than anything. In our rest, we can focus not so much on the things that need to be done but who they are meant to be done for. This is the very purpose we were created for in the first place, to know and to love him first. Productivity is a good thing, but it's not the best thing.

 If you've found yourself living with a hectic calender, I would invite you to evaluate what or who you're striving for. What is the motivation for your business? Are you working tirelessly for Jesus Christ but neglecting restorative fellowship with him? If so, don't feel shamed, instead approach him and receive the peace that he freely offers. He's waiting to rest with you.