At the very core of God’s design of humans is his intention for us to order, shape, exercise dominion over ourselves and our surroundings. In a world where reaching nearly every worthwhile goal requires careful thought and planning, why would we assume that accomplishing God’s mission for our lives would be any different? The starting point for overcoming a disordered life is becoming convinced that God’s design for every human is that our inner private world govern our outer world of activity.
Today, we begin a new series entitled, Don’t Waste Your Life: Rule It for Jesus. Paul taught that God perfectly designed Christ-followers for their specific mission, which he called, good works. In Ephesians 2:10, after he clarified HOW we are saved, i.e. by faith, he then explained WHAT WE ARE SAVED FOR. He continues, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Not only does God have a specific mission for you in 2023, which Paul summarizes as good works, but that mission is so important that God specifically designed you for it—to have your specific place and responsibilities in your family, your natural gifts and vocational calling, your specific spiritual gifts with which to contribute to the Body of Christ, and your specific relationships with the lost. God designed both YOU and THE SPECIFIC OPPORTUNITIES YOU WILL HAVE IN 2023 to impact your world for Christ. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to the end of 2023 and look back at all the opportunities that God gave me that I missed. I don’t want to waste my life. This episode looks at how to overcome a disordered life, so that I can stay focused on Christ’s mission for me—and so bring him honor in 2023.
For most of us, our lives in 2022 are well described by Kevin DeYoung, in his book, Crazy Busy.
You’ve got car repairs. Then your heater goes out. The kids need to see a doctor. You haven’t done your taxes yet. Your check book isn’t balanced. You’re behind on your thank you notes. You promised your mother you’d come over and fix the faucet. You’re behind on wedding planning. Your boards are coming up. You have more applications to send out. Your dissertation is due. Your refrigerator is empty. Your lawn needs mowing. Your curtains don’t look right. Your washing machine keeps rattling. This is life for most of us.
It is ironic that our society’s historic level of fabulous wealth, which has provided so many labor-saving devices and conveniences, has left us so out-of-control busy. But technological growth doesn’t just lead to convenient, labor and time-saving devices; it also leads to endless opportunities. Today, in one week, a human can encounter more information via the Internet and his cell phone than most humans have encountered in their lifetime. The endless opportunities of our technology combine with a particular component of human nature to make our lives crazy-busy: NO ONE WANTS TO MISS OUT ON OPPORTUNITIES. Who wants to be out of the loop on the latest Facebook post that has gone viral? Who wanted to miss out on the latest conversation about the World Cup? Who wants to miss the latest text from friends, or Facetime call from loved ones? Who wants to miss the latest podcast that could hep him be better at his profession? The result of this resistance to missing out is that when we finally do have a little free time at the end of the day, we are too exhausted to use it productively. Life is often like being on a raft rushing down a raging river with no rudder. We just bounce off whatever is in front of us and move on. But if we choose to live life that way in 2023, it will cost US and OUR FAMILIES. Here is a glimpse of some of the costs of a disordered life.
The Cost of a Crazy Busy Disordered Life
A. The crazy busy life can mask the erosion of our soul. Busyness, itself, robs the soul of joy. When our lives are frantic and frenzied without space for soul renewal, we are more prone to surrender to the enemies of our soul, anxiety, resentment, impatience, irritability, discontent. Busyness keeps us so distracted that we don’t realize the toll it is taking on our inner, spiritual life. But God never intended us to be able to cope with life apart from renewing our INNER STRENGTH. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me…. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Gordon MacDonald, in his book, Ordering Your Private World, observes:
Our public worlds are filled with a seeming infinity of demands upon our time, our loyalties, our money, and our energies. And because these public worlds of ours are so visible, so real, we have to struggle to ignore all their seductions and demands. They scream for our attention and action. The result is that our private world is often cheated, neglected because it does not shout quite so loudly. It can be effectively ignored for large periods of time before it gives way to a sinkhole-like cave-in.
B. The second danger of being CRAZY BUSY is that less important matters take center-stage and shove the most important matters to the periphery. The GOOD THINGS around us gobble up our most precious possession, time, cheating us out of the BEST THING—accomplishing the mission for which our LORD created us, because we don’t default to thinking about our mission. Praying about and planning how best to: 1) love my wife, 2) shepherd my kids, 3) reduce my spending so I can give more to kingdom advancement, 4) build a relationship with my next door neighbor, 5) winsomely express the biblical worldview on current topics at work—these important tasks that are essential to accomplishing Christ’s mission for me don’t have to be done today, or even this week. These activities can usually wait. But often the most visible but less important tasks call for immediate response–endless demands pressure every waking hour. No matter where we are, our phone pings with the latest email, text, or social media notification) THE APPEAL OF THESE DEMANDS SEEMS IRRESISTIBLE, AND THEY DEVOUR OUR ENERGY. But in the light of eternity their momentary prominence fades. With a sense of loss, we recall the important tasks that have been shunted aside. We realize that we’ve become slaves to the demands of the visible, audible world.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of living a disordered life is that our wives and children suffer. The outer, visible world can so consume men with good things, that they don’t invest in praying for their wives’ and children’s spiritual battles. Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer (James 5:16). In Exodus 17, so long as Moses’ arms were lifted up in prayer for those under his care, the Israelite warriors prevailed over the Amalekites. But when his prayer arms were lowered, the Amalekites prevailed. When combined with NT teaching, there is no doubt that this text is a physical picture of spiritual reality. Our family members down in the valley fighting the Evil One will win spiritual victories if we pray for them that they will lose if we do not! Even wonderful visible things can devour our time, pushing aside the most vital things.
C. The third danger of the CRAZY BUSY life is investing our life in what doesn’t really matter. Socrates famous statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living” is true. Someone has said, “If we are going to hear, ‘Well done good and faithful servant’ from the Master, we need to well do.” If we want to hear the Lord’s commendation for accomplishing the mission he gave us, we need to stay focused on that mission, as Jesus did his mission.
On the night before he died, Jesus made an astonishing claim. He said to his Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (Jn 17:4). We wonder how Jesus could have talked about a completed mission.