The old saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” but the same could be said for busy hands as well. The adage refers to the trouble one can get into with no plans, hobbies, commitments, etc. What of an excessively occupied mind, full hands, or a clock without enough time? Aren’t those spiritually risky as well?
Busy lives are spiritually risky, not because being busy is a sin or even frowned upon, but because being busy often distracts us or overwhelms us to the point that God becomes an afterthought.
Just about anything can become a distraction – work, money, hobbies, family, church. If it’s capable of consuming the largest part of your heart or time, it can be a distraction from God and your relationship with Him.
“I’d like to go to Bible study tonight, but I need to get in overtime at work before the holidays get here.”
“I know God wants me to start this devotional, but I’m wiped out and my favorite show’s coming on in ten minutes.”
“I skipped my quiet time with God this morning to sleep in, but now something’s come up. I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
It’s not that we ignore God for people or reasons that are intrinsically bad. Most of the time, it’s for things that should be high priorities. It’s our habit of putting things as a higher priority than God that ruins us.
There’s nothing wrong with volunteering at church or spending time with family and friends or furthering your career. There is something wrong with burning ourselves out on something to the point where there’s not much, if anything, left to give to God.
The receiver of our first fruits is the receiver of our worship.
All of our running runs us ragged.
Personally, if I’m given the choice to sit and relax while snacking and watching a show or movie or to read and think and really study, I’m far more inclined to choose the former over the latter.
Our everyday lives can overwhelm us so much that we don’t want to do much in our downtime.
Let me rephrase to better iterate my point: We’re so busy that, most of the time, we want to spend our free time doing things that require minimal mental and physical activity. We sometimes choose not to do what we really want or need to do because we’re too exhausted.
Where’s the joy in that?
Jesus tells us that we’ll have joy in Him. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. No, we may not always be happy, but we’ll have a deep, profound sense of joy. And if we’re not turning to Jesus to fuel and refill us, if He’s not our source of joy, it’ll be a more generic, fleeting form of joy that we do receive.
I’m reading a book called Playing with Purpose by Mike Yorkey. The book tells the stories of some professional athletes who use their talents and positions in life to glorify God. One such athlete is Jeremy Lin, the center of “Linsanity” in early 2012 and current point guard for the Charlotte Hornets.
Lin signed with the Golden State Warriors his rookie year after going undrafted and after the Warriors were bought by two men, one of whom had coached against Lin when Lin was a kid and knew his talent and work ethic. Later that season, the Warriors sent Lin to their Development League team in Reno. Lin’s first season in the NBA involved being moved around, few playing minutes, and a losing record.
Lin says of this time in his life, “People don’t believe me when I say my rookie season was the toughest year of my life, but it was. I had a lot of long nights and struggles. I had to really learn how to submit my will to God and learn to trust Him while going through difficult situations that I thought were maybe unfair at times or things that I had wished would have gone in a different way. What I learned was to lean on God in those situations, and to make my relationship more intimate by spending more time with Him every day. I did a lot of reading and I did a lot of praying. More praying than I had ever done. I just learned a ton.”
Lin could’ve been bitter and upset at how everything was turning out, and he was so busy that it would’ve been very easy to neglect his relationship with God. He chose to trust in God and carve out time for Him instead. He made sure that God was first in his life and prioritized spending quality time with Him.
I’m not telling you to neglect parts of your life altogether or to sacrifice healthy aspects of your life. I’m advising you to look at the parts of your life, what’s necessary and what’s not, and determine what’s most important.
Because in addition to joy, Jesus gives us just what our busy lives need: rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT), “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Doesn’t that sound nice? Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we need is this crazy, busy world? Jesus offers it freely and gladly. Rest for our souls. Relief from our burdens. Relaxation for our minds. All we have to do is turn to Him. He’ll replace our busy with joy. He’ll refresh us in a way that only He can. We just have to take the time to give it all to Him.
By Carrie Prevette
P.S. – My mom says that the saying is, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” but I’ve only ever heard “devil’s playground.” Despite the fact that the two offer different images and connotations, the meaning remains the same. Although I am kind of interested in hearing any other different versions of this phrase now, so if you’ve got a different one, feel free to share it with me!