The Cure for Mindless Busyness

My wiggly 6-year-old lopes into the room. He can’t even walk without being wiggly, somehow. He told me he’d brushed his teeth, like I’d asked. I thanked him. He nodded in response, turned around and shoved at a stack of books on our end table, knocking two of them on the floor. He watched them fall and started to walk out of the room.

“What are you doing!?” I’d just finished restacking those books. I don’t even like that particular stack of stuff there, I just don’t have time to really clean the mess? So I just try to make the mess look as un-messy as possible. I know, dumb. It’s a losing battle, no matter what. but still. Knock it on the floor and walk away? While I’m standing right there?

I reigned myself back in, and stood with him while I had him pick them up, I told him how hard I was trying to keep things picked up off the floor, and that its his job to help with this, blah blah blah. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied and picked them up.

We have ADHD in this household. So I don’t know why we waste our breath asking “why did you do x-y-z” so often. The impulse control issues are REAL, y’all.

And really, my boys have no idea why they knock over a stack of books, or take off one sock and throw it behind the couch. They really aren’t trying to be difficult or mean. Their brains are doing one thing and their bodies are doing another. But that why that connects brain and action together isn’t there. They may or may not remember what their body just did. If they do, they don’t have an answer. Honestly, Noah was probably trying to see if he could flip a whole stack of books, like the YouTubers flip bottles.

And then, this morning during my quiet time, I read in Haggai, chapter 1, “Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: Think carefully about your ways.”

I chuckled to myself, thinking I’d have that one to tell at my kids the next time we have a “why do you do the things you do” lecture.

But then I kept reading. “You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough to be satisfied. You drink but never have enough to become drunk. You put on clothes but never have enough to get warm. The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it . . . Why? . . . Because My house still lies in ruins, while each of you is busy with his own house.”

That last line caught me. While each of you is busy with his own house. Does that describe me to a T, or what?

God wanted the Israelites to put the rebuilding of His temple back at the top of their to-do lists. So that His name could be glorified, honored, and worshiped. They had neglected their God, put Him on the back-burner. They’d been tending to their own affairs and hadn’t found the space to fit God in.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re squirming. Which means you’re also trying to tidy all the things, drink enough water, balance work and home, get enough sleep, and not feel like a failure when the laundry isn’t switched over.

Maybe you’re assuming you’ll have enough energy and clarity for some Bible time once the kids are in bed, but you also feel the powerful pull of a sinkful of dishes.

Maybe you clean til you drop in exhaustion, telling yourself you’ll get up extra early in the morning for prayer.

Why do we do the things that we do? What does it say about me when I choose to obey the command of a pile of clutter in the corner, rather than spend time with Jesus?

It says my priorities are out of whack. “Think carefully about your ways.” Is what I’m doing accomplishing anything important? My control issues say yes. But is this kingdom work? Is it bringing glory and honor to my God, my Provider, my Good Shepherd? No, what I’m doing isn’t even really for any other human. It’s for me. Its about me. By and large, my to-do list serves ME.

God wanted the Israelites to serve Him. And to quiet those fearful hearts, He reminds them of this: I am with you.

He reminds us of this. I am with you.

He reminds me of this. Morgan. I am with you.

So I don’t have to worry.

He doesn’t tell us not to work, He just says to work with our priorities straight.

When my wiggly little guy needed to set the books back in order, I was with him. I was there with him to set him straight, to offer correction, to lay the groundwork for a better way. His 6-year-old self can’t do that alone.

My 35-year-old self can’t do it on my own. But, God promises to never abandon me. If I can tune my heart to hear His voice, yield myself to being corrected and formed into something better, I can work out of, and into, and all for HIS glory, not mine. If I can stop the endless cycle of mindless busyness, if I can think carefully about my ways and choose work that honors God, I can find peace. I can find satisfaction. I can find abundance. I can find contentment. I can find rest that my heart seeks so desperately.

So can you. Let’s replace our mindless busyness with mindful holiness. Instead of following our own impulses, let’s allow ourselves to be gently controlled by the Holy Spirit. He promises to never leave us alone in all our mess.

God, I confess I have a tendency to worship to-do lists, far more often than I like to admit. Please remind me that true rest isn’t found at the end of a to-do list, but in YOU alone. Help me to think carefully about my ways. Help me to filter my daily decisions through Your eyes and Your word. Make my heart more sensitive to Your leading, even in the mundane chores.