My husband and I challenge one another, “If not now, when?” Whether it’s a change of lifestyle, visiting someplace you’ve only dreamed of, or a purchase you keep putting off for later, eventually later isn’t an option. We’re staring that reality in the face, making decisions instead of doing more of what we do and depending on later.
When did I become elderly? Sure, I still do most of the things I’ve always done, but more slowly and with more “oops.” When I was learning to train horses, weld, manage ranch work, and trim hooves I regularly bought boxes of band-aids. For fifteen years the boxes lasted forever. Now, I’m back to buying adhesive strips and sporting them like jewelry.
Things look different once you know there are fewer years ahead than behind. You can’t change what was, but there’s no better time to prepare for what’s ahead than the present.
Frantic is Always Wrong
Most of us are speed freaks, seeking constant stimulation, crossing items off our endless to-do list, racing from one event or project to another. I didn’t realize that was me until the thought of my runaway train hitting a brick wall to STOP started sounding good. Now that I’m aware and seeking change, the fix isn’t as easy as I hoped.
Busyness and mental stimulation are addicting. Which may make me an adrenaline drug addict. I love creating, solving, doing, and going. Life is too short to do everything I’d like to do, so why not pack in as much as possible?
Why not eat a whole cheesecake or entire half-gallon of ice cream? I’ve done the cheesecake, and my mother told me how she used to binge on ice cream during nursing school. We’re all vulnerable.
Busyness increases adrenaline, and video anything produces increased levels of dopamine. More on that another day, but who thinks of super-dedication to work, service, family, or relaxing in front of a screen addicting? Changing habits isn’t as easy as recognizing the need for change. A reasonable level of effort is required, but frantic is always wrong.
Addicted to Busyness
The faster you spin your hamster wheel, the less you see. When you’re cruising back roads at 20 mph you notice the margins between cornfields and grazing pastures and discern the season by which flowers are blooming and which fading. In spring, when newborn calves or twin fawns capture your attention, you make time to pull over, snap a photo, and capture the moment.
Such moments become memories. How many precious memories have you made lately, meaningful enough to stand above everything else you’ve accomplished or checked off your list? If you’ve made any, what speed were you going? Were there electronics involved? Did you get paid?
The memories we cherish at the end of our days aren’t ones of busyness, but connection. Traveling slowly reveals the miracle of how valleys becomes mountains, how the sun’s rays produce massive geometric shapes at sunrise and sunset. When God’s artwork is most brilliant, what are you looking at? Your iPhone?
Life passes by too quickly. I can’t figure out what happened to the 70s, 80s, or 90s, and even the decade following the change of centuries is now lost to memory. Remember Y2K? We’re already nearing the end of the twenty-teens. Gracious!
My husband and I are still good, but we’re slowing down. That trendline isn’t going to change.
Stewardship Isn’t as Simple as I Thought
The theme of stewardship continues in my daily study. What does God consider good stewardship? How should I invest scarce resources of time, energy, passion, and cash?
A deep-dive into the book of Ecclesiastes is jarring. Solomon did everything humanly possible, yet learned that busyness and acquisition produce nothing of lasting value. He concluded that both effort and result were meaningless. I don’t have all the answers to produce the change I need, but at least I know where to find them.
Most people lament the busyness of their lives and the rarity of simple joy. Recently I sat on our front porch, eyes closed, experiencing the tickle of a cool breeze on my face. It was captivating! I don’t do that enough because it doesn’t seem important enough. Where did I get that idea?
God continually offers tiny joys and bubbles of delight that I miss because I’m busy. But where should I focus and what precisely should I do?
Simplicity is the secret to everything.
3-Step Pro-Stewardship Plan
“What should I do? I can’t do everything. What’s my first move? And then what?”
Here’s the simple daily routine I adopted after taking my problem to the Lord for help.
- First do what is NEEDFUL.
- Then do what is PROMISED.
- See what’s left and PRIORITIZE.
As a result, I experience less confusion about what to do first and what can wait because the needful and promised are finished. Prioritizing what remains is easier. Tomorrow I do it again. Don’t be surprised if you need frequent reminders of the plan – I sure do!
Try it. Let me know how it works for you.
Do you dream of the moment Jesus looks at you and says,
‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ – Matthew 25:23
Update on my Stewardship Plan
The three steps listed above are still relevant, but only scratch the surface, short on step-by-step instructions that make the process easy. It’s not easy. It’s hard. The most valuable lessons require work, perseverance, and practice. Even so, my goals are still too plentiful and unpractical.
I’ll never knock out sixteen-hour days at hyper-speed again. Who said it was a good idea in the first place? Some self-help author? Employer? Someone trying to manipulate you? It sure wasn’t God. There are periods where over-work is necessary, when the only option for the moment is working two jobs to pay the bills. Family finance today assumes that everyone over works, making it possible to provide electronics, experiences, or bigger house.
Memories aren’t about stuff. They’re about connection. People. Critters. Christ.
No gospel evidence suggests the disciples were over-scheduled. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)
Hurry, rush, and worry are distractions. They’re not of God.
The Lord Jesus promises peace and joy – today. It’s up to us to receive it. To live it. To honor Him in how we spend our time and energy. How much is left for Him after the to-do list is finished?
What if the to-do list is never finished?
Things change quickly, a trend that escalates, not lessens. My sister-in-law went from healthy to chemo-for-the-rest-of-her-life in less than twenty-four hours. A friend’s sister, a slim vibrant 57-year young vegetarian, caught the flu and was gone in a week.
Every plan for my brother and his wife’s “some day” became today. For some, even today is lost.
My husband and I may have many more years together, though certainly the majority are behind us. I treasure the years gone by, but intend to value the ones to come more than I have. Our today is all we have and we want to make the most of it.
We’re still learning how that works. Most addicts aren’t aware of their problem till they’re already chin deep in it. Busyness isn’t much different. At the end of the day you’re tired, and it isn’t always a good tired. Some days it’s more used up or wiped out – without spending one moment enjoying the gifts God provides.
Don’t squander anything.
Jesus as Lord of all, not some
What about our years with Christ? When does He rise to His place of preeminence? When will He receive the leisure of our early morning and late at night?
When will you make time to even consider those questions?
I’m making the time now.
“If not now, when?“
The journey continues.
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