I’m finding more often than not that my response to the question, “How are you?” is “I’m good, just really busy.” I also find that as the days, weeks, months, and years go by that the busyness just keeps getting busier. Can anyone relate? The demands of owning businesses, parenting, meetings, extracurricular activities, church, and maintaining relationships just increases as time goes by. I’ve also found that in this really busy season of my life that keeping my relationship with Jesus as my number one priority takes a very intentional lifestyle.
One of Satan’s most subtle deceptions is to keep us perpetually busy. He constantly bombards us with distractions that he hopes will ultimately prevent us from having that deep, meaningful relationship with Jesus. Sometimes a “distraction” may not be wrong in and of itself, but it can divert our attention from more important matters—and, if we are not careful, can cause us to forfeit an opportunity to be a light to someone who really needs it.
Paul says in Ephesians 6:16, “ In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” These “arrows” are not burning arrows or missiles! They are spiritual weapons employed by the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). They consist of thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges and impulses through which Satan tries to enslave us.
And one of Satan’s most effective and frequently employed “flaming arrows” is the lie that we must be forever busy, or always in a hurry! Satan delights in distracting us from the things that really matter, by convincing us that nothing can wait, that everything is as important as everything else, and that we are failing or “missing out” if we are not constantly active.
Intentionally maintaining a very real and personal relationship with Jesus is just like maintaining a healthy marriage. If I go weeks without communicating and spending quality time with my husband, the health of our marriage starts to decline. I’ve found that if we don’t set apart time to really be in each other’s presence and talk about things completely unrelated to children, bills, and work then this thing called “distance” starts to settle in our marriage. The same is true in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ. He desires a close, intimate, personal relationship with us. However, we can’t have that if we don’t intentionally set apart time to talk with Him.
So how do we stay connected to Jesus even when our lives swirl around us at a rapid pace? How do we keep Him our number one priority in our hearts and minds while we live our very busy lives? Here are a few ideas for staying close to Jesus even when life gets crazy:
1. Start with Scripture.
My goal is to read the Bible every day—early in the day—so that everything else I do is seen through the lens of the Word and not through the lens of my own perception. Reading the Bible is one thing that keeps me grounded in truth and connected to Him. I have found, for me, that when I start my day in the Bible, my heart and mind are better prepared to respond to His presence throughout the rest of the day—and I usually find that I am more sensitive to when the Holy Spirit is prompting me to be a source of encouragement to someone or a light in a very dark place. Being a mommy means that my mornings can start rather early. I’ve learned that once my daughter hits the ground running I’m no longer on my own time schedule. I also found that by evening I was way too exhausted to try to get in the Word. I decided I had to take control of my own time with the Lord. Every morning (ok…most mornings) I get up 45 minutes earlier than I need to so that I can enjoy a cup of coffee, go through a devotion, and read the Bible. This also allows me to have “me” time. I have discovered that I am so much more relaxed and peaceful if I take the time to do this. So get creative if you need to. Maybe in the evenings when you would normally scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or Pintrest to decompress from the day, you could spend a portion of that time in His Word. Do you commute to work? Maybe you could listen to an audio version of the Bible. You have to find what works best for you. Mornings may not be your thing and that is completely ok, however, not spending time with the One who created you and formed your innermost parts is not. One of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible is Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things will be added to you.” I firmly believe that if you will spend time in His presence, seeking His face and His will for your life all the “cares of this life” will be taken care of.
2. Stop Staring at the Screens.
We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with information. If you own a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer you have information coming in at alarmingly rapid pace. About a month ago I was without my iPhone for 12 days. I’ll admit, the first two days were rough. I didn’t realize how much I depended on it for everything. It wasn’t even so much that I missed the social media factor, I needed it because my calendar was on it, all my phone and email contacts, and my grocery lists! I was surprised that once I realized it was going to take some time to get my phone back to working order I began to relax and not worry about all those things. I actually enjoyed the quietness. I didn’t miss the dings, beeps, vibrations, and alarms. I found myself praying more and being more engaged in the life and lives that were taking place all around me. Be careful…don’t let the screens strangle your soul. Too much screen time can keep your mind so busy that it becomes difficult for you to focus on anything that requires your full attention for a sustained amount of time. Screen time can also become very addictive, sucking up precious time and energy that God wants you to devote to other activities. So set limits on your screen time every day and be intentional with how you use the time you are plugged into technology.
Public Service Announcement: When someone is talking to you face to face, please do not look at your phone. It may seem harmless to you but the message you are sending is that whatever is taking place on your phone is more important than them and what they have to say. Some of the greatest gifts God has given us are time and people. The reality is that we are not promised tomorrow. Embrace the people that He has placed in your lives and show them that you value them by looking them in the eyes when they are communicating with you.
3. Pray throughout the day.
It is important to have regular time set aside to pray, but as in any relationship, ongoing communication is vital to the health of the relationship. I often pray in shorter bursts while I’m driving, while I’m sitting in the bank drive thru, or while I’m picking up around the house. In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer can literally change a situation or circumstance in just a moment. Without prayer, I feel hopeless. When I’m frustrated, worried, stressed, or overwhelmed I take the time to stop and pray. Consequently, I notice that my attitude changes. Prayer doesn’t make the problems disappear but it gives me the grace and wisdom to navigate through the problems. If I’m being completely transparent, there are times when I am so overwhelmed that I don’t even know how to pray. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 says, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, when we don't know how we should pray the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Prayer doesn’t have to be timed. He just wants you to communicate with Him. He wants you to share your life with Him. There are no fancy words or eloquent speech needed to pray. All you have to do is open up your mouth and heart and begin talking. Prayer keeps our hearts in conversation with God and invites Him into the normalness of our lives—which is right where He already is.
I challenge you to try these 3 things. If you make spending time with Jesus your top priority every day, you’ll gain the right perspective on every situation, which will help you manage your time as God intends. As you stay close to Jesus, you can experience more blessings than busyness. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have more blessings than more things on my to-do list.
Amberly and her husband Will attend Word of Life and also run a ministry called Asking For The Nations. AFTN does a lot of work and ministry in Africa.