Core scripture: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Message: Do you ever feel like a professional juggler sometimes? You toss all these balls into the air, trying to not let them fall to the ground. Work … Family … Hobbies … Rest … Church … Exercise—does it ever get overwhelming for you? Before you know it, one of those balls is bouncing on the floor, and you are kneeling over to snag it, only to see the rest of them skipping and ricocheting every which way. I have realized that it is nearly impossible to juggle all these priorities efficiently, and with the school year back into full swing and my wife returning to work after six years of being a stay-at-home mom, I realize my priorities need to be rethought.
So, I hopped on YouVersion. Ever downloaded the app before? Give it a shot if you haven’t. It has the entire Bible in pretty much any translation, reading plans, devotions, videos, you name it. The “Finding Work Life Balance” devotion was quite enlightening to me. The video from the last day, however, took the cake (see link below). I had seen the demonstration before of putting rocks in a jar, then filling the rest with smaller rocks, sand, and then finally water. The large rocks represent our major priorities in life, and unless we put those rocks in place first, there will not be enough room for the rest.
The devotion likewise took me through Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Wise old Solomon is always good for insight. If you break down the verses, you realize the truth he is attempting to get across to us: there is indeed a time for everything in our lives. For a teacher, that scripture might translate something like this: There is a time for grading and a time not to grade. A time to watch your students’ football game and a time to watch your son’s soccer game. A time to laugh with your students and a time to get down to business. A time to create new lessons and a time to pull out an oldie but goodie that has worked for years. You get the picture.
So, how do we know when it is time to do what? That is a tough one. I look to the model that Jesus set before us. His heart always spilled out to others. My favorite story of Jesus that epitomizes his willingness to help is the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus had just learned of his cousin John the Baptist’s senseless beheading. He was mentally and physically drained. He went off to be by Himself, but Jesus was a magnet for crowds. They followed Him around the lake, and He “felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). But Jesus didn’t stop there. He followed that by performing quite possibly the most amazing miracle ever: feeding over 5,000 on five loaves and two fish. All because of His heartfelt compassion for others.
That is a good checkpoint for us in how we use our time. Are we putting others’ needs before our own in humility? How are we modeling the same servant leadership that Christ consistently showed? At work, I might be tempted to catch up on e-mail, but God needs me to find that one struggling learner in the corner, the one kid who might be too shy to ask for help, to guide him to success. At home, I might be tempted to put my feet up and watch a no-brainer show on Hulu, but God sees that as an opportune time to lovingly communicate with my wife. Allow your heart to be filled with compassion for others and serve.
Jesus was also in constant communication with God. Some of the easiest verses to gloss over are where Jesus slips away to pray. Mark 1:35 tells us, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Even the Son of God needed to quiet Himself and ask God for guidance. From quiet prayers such as this to His most dramatic prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56), He always sought wisdom from God. We should do likewise. If you ever have a day when you don’t know where God needs you, just ask Him. He’s available any time, any place, in every circumstance.
What I have learned through the first month of school is that life ebbs and flows with different priorities. Labor Day weekend? All about my family. Next weekend? All about chipping away at the 100 personal narratives I must begin grading. Wednesday nights? All about serving our church’s youth group. And through it all God also reminds me when I need to recharge my own batteries by sleeping in or catching part of a Chiefs game. It keeps me sane. There is, however, one consistency I choose not to put off, and that is my time with the Lord. Some days I go deeper than others, but that quality time with Jesus is the one rock I need as number one in my life.
Challenge: Create a list of the “big rocks” in your life. Rank them on how you are prioritizing them in your life, and then rearrange the list to how God might want you to change it.
Song application: “When I’m With You” by Citizen Way
When I’m with you
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of you, Jesus
Anytime, anywhere, any heartache
I’m never too much for you to take
There’s only love
There’s only grace
When I’m with you
Yeah, when I’m with you, yeah
Video application: Watch this one-minute powerful video about prioritizing your life. https://youtu.be/vYsVmSh4648
Bible story: Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and reflect on each verse. Journal about it or discuss it with a partner if you feel inspired. Break it down verse by verse. Ask yourself the question of how each area applies to your life.
Prayer: Lord, I pray you will help me balance all the different areas of my life, giving attention to what You need me to. May You always be priority number one in my life. Amen.