Keeping God on the To-do List

Waking to the insistent beeping of my alarm clock, I groggily thought, “I have got to learn to say no!”

Usually, life ambles along at a fairly reasonable pace. There are brief stretches when we’re too busy, and even briefer stretches where I have enough spare time that I consider adding another responsibility, but for the most part, I have a good balance between working hard and relaxing, with plenty of time for contemplating God at work in my life.

Lately, all that balance has come crashing down on the side of overload.

There’s work to attend to, housework needs doing, and I’m spending far more time than I had anticipated on a photography class I’m taking. The perennials out in the yard are clamoring for me to clean off last year’s winter-killed stems and leaves, and the vegetable seeds I ordered need planting.

My doctor wants me to walk four miles a day, six days a week. My body tells me it needs at least seven hours of sleep most nights.

Pete would love to spend some time with his wife. My friends miss me, and my dad needs me to take him shopping and to appointments.

Then there are the three different programs I’m presenting next week—one for the master gardener spring lecture series, one for our local Audubon chapter, and one for a church group that is actually paying me a small (very small) honorarium. Each one needs a PowerPoint that takes hours to prepare. (For example, I spent about 40 hours to assemble a two-hour talk on growing flowers, even with last summer’s pictures ready to use!)

There’s the new Glenn Packiam book I’m reading (see my glowing reviews of his two previous books), that new recipe I want to try, and I still haven’t begun to weed through the 9,000 photographs I took while we were in California last month.

More important than any of these things, I want—need!—to spend time with God. (As I was searching through the piles on my desk the other morning, I realized that I haven’t seen very much of Him lately, but I know He’s got to be around here somewhere!)

It seems that everyone is busy these days. It’s almost like a badge of honor. We think that because we’re busy, we’re important. God is “using us.” I’ve seen a number of articles discussing this sign of our times.

And yes, I suppose that could be my problem, but I pretty much doubt it. At the moment, I would love to be “used” a bit less! Still, I assume that my overloaded calendar and soaring stress level are my own fault. Should I have said “no” a few more times?

What actually happened is that all these commitments came at me one at a time. I didn’t plan to be this busy. They just snuck up on me, and suddenly everything was trying to happen all at once. And I did pray about them all.

Maybe I should have prayed more. Maybe I should have listened more.

Or maybe God just wanted me to be busy for a while. Maybe He wanted to teach me to seek Him in the midst of exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and hours of hard, distracting work. Maybe it’s all about depending on God, being empowered by the Holy Spirit, and producing fruit that will last.

Spring is the busiest time of year for me. In addition to my regular routine, birds are migrating, gardens need planting, and suddenly I’m in demand as a speaker on one (or both) of those subjects. This semester’s photography class just pushed it all over the edge.

I know my overload is temporary. I have no intention of living like this on a permanent basis. In the meantime, I’m learning to make God a priority, to depend on His strength even when (especially when!) I have a zillion things to do. No, I’m not perfect. I miss days. I forget to pray. It’s only through practice that I’ll build these spiritual muscles. I just hope I learn quickly. This is one lesson I don’t want to prolong!

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