Grace in Activity

graceSo be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Ponder It.

  • On a scale from one to ten, how busy would you rate your life to be?
  • What is something you have done recently that was obviously rooted in God’s guidance?
  • What is an area of your schedule or responsibilities that hasn’t recently been filtered through God’s hands?

Receive It. Grace can permeate your schedule, but God won’t crowd into spaces you haven’t created. If you imagine an appointment book, consider grace as the very pages of the book. Anything that you write on the pages is founded in grace. Everything is filtered through grace. Nothing can be separated from grace. But is that how we actually approach our schedules? Grace isn’t something to be handled lightly as a convenience. It’s not something we can block in a designated amount of time. It must be given priority in our lives, both long-term and short-term. We often run from one activity to another. And we’re often doing good things, but doing the good things isn’t good enough. Doing the good thing must be set aside and replaced by doing the God thing. Sometimes the two look very much the same, but our motivation can be different. We can do the good thing because we think it’s what God would want, but is it, really? Have we checked with him? Have we relied on him to guide us? Even doing something that is within his general will doesn’t mean it’s part of his specific will for us, because his specific will includes his guidance in timing. What requires our yes at one point may require our no at another point. God has no intention for us to do, do, do…even in his name. God intends for us to be, be, be, which includes doing but only when it is filtered through his name and the timing and guidance he gives. We access God’s grace through our relationship with God, which requires regular reliance on God. We must sacrifice our own assumptions and preferences, including in our schedules, to his will. As we do, his grace abounds in and through us.

Live It. Check your calendar or to do list for the next 24 hours. Have you intentionally filtered absolutely everything through his will? Ask him what needs to be removed, changed, or added.

A Season of Activity

addicted-to-busyness1Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time. (Ephesians 5:15-16a)

When have you felt overwhelmed or busier than you like to be?

Do you see yourself more as a victim of busyness or a creator of it?

How purposeful do you believe your busyness generally is?

It used to be that when someone asked how you were doing, the most common response would be “Fine.” Nowadays, it’s most common to hear another response: “Busy!” As odd as it sounds, we can nearly become bored with busyness. It becomes our norm, and we get overwhelmed. No matter what we accomplish, it seems several more things wait for our attention. Plain and simple, we are busy people.

When we follow what God wants from us, and busyness results for a season, we need to embrace it and trust God to carry us through. But we can’t begin to let busyness become a badge of honor, even for God. We can’t assume that if we’re not busy, we’re not about God’s work. We can’t compare ourselves to others and declare they are better or worse than us because of their busyness or restfulness. Being still is as much about God’s business than activity for Him. “For Him” is the key. Just because you can attach His name to something doesn’t make it His will for you right now. Everything that He would call “good” isn’t equal to everything you should be doing. We find it fairly easy to determine what is good and what is bad. We struggle a bit more sifting through all the good to discern what is good and what is best.

For one full minute, list everything you think you must, should, or could do today. Be honest with your expectations. You might list tasks, as well as disciplines, attitudes, and more. After a minute of listing, spend at least one more minute in prayer over the list. Commit to giving each and every item on the list to Him. Let Him filter and prioritize. When you are done praying, revisit your list. Cross off what He guides you to set aside. It doesn’t mean those things are unimportant; they simply aren’t what He wants you to focus on today. Circle the things you know are a priority for Him. Focus primarily on those things today.