From time to time we need to unburden our lives because our lives are stuffed to the brim. Last summer my family went to spend a week in Ocean City. We were all looking forward to it. Maddie and I both love the peace and serenity of the beach as we hear the waves crash into the shore. This happened to be the first time we were going to the beach with our son Andrew for more than a quick day trip. The peace and serenity was in short supply.
The trip started off a bit rough. I either slept through our alarm or didn’t set it to begin with – both of which is very plausible. Then we had to pack up the car… and those who are parents understand. When you go on vacation with young children you need EVERYTHING. I didn’t even know we owned that much stuff. I’m not exaggerating we could not fit one more thing in the car unless it was going on Andrew’s lap. Any time you open a door you had to be prepared to catch everything because once one thing fell… everything would come tumbling out.
This is how we treat our lives. We jam pack our lives, our schedules, and it leaves us burdened – carrying a load we cannot handle on our own. Our lives are so jam packed that we hardly have time to care for ourselves let alone care for the relationships of our spouses, friends, and our relationship with God. I’ve come to realize whenever I ask someone how they are, most of the time the default response is, “I’m busy”, “We’re busy”, and the one I am most guilty of saying, “Oh you know, better busy than bored.”
Busy-ness has become the goal in and of itself. I must be important if I can tell you all the things I have to do or all the things I’ve accomplished since we last talked. But who are we really trying to impress? Are we really that shallow that we care so much about appearances, especially the appearance of being busy?
This is something humanity has always struggled with. Even in Jesus time there were many people so concerned about appearances and painting a good picture of themselves especially their relationship with God. That’s why during Lent it’s always important to check our hearts because many it can be tempting to take on a spiritual discipline in hopes of being perceived as Holy.
God won’t love us more because we are so religious making a big spectacle of our spiritual practices. So if God won’t love us more for doing these things will he love us for all the other things you’ve crammed into our lives? Who are we trying to impress?
Our challenge is to make the space to hear God. Some take on disciplines like praying or fasting from certain foods. Others take on a project and do something as a family in hopes that we might deepen our relationship with God and discern His voice calling out to our busy noise – filled lives. That’s all well and good, but all God cares about is your heart. Your motivation.
Spiritual disciplines are good to do as long as you do them for the right reason. The prophet Joel wrote in chapter 2 verse 12, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, with praying. Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Many times in Jesus’ day people would rip their clothes as an outward sign of repenting. But what the prophet Joel is saying is that your heart is what God’s primarily concerned with. Your heart is all that matters when it comes to spiritual discipline. If you come at it from the standpoint of trying to get some benefit out of it for yourself – your discipline is misplaced. If you are doing a discipline like praying or fasting so that you might be more intentional in seeking a relationship with God and being filled by His presence – then you will see and experience Him in ways that strengthen your relationship.
This is a season where we can be intentional about ordering our lives in a way where we are able to cancel out the noise and unburden our lives from the busy-ness of everyday life so that we can focus on seeing, hearing, and experiencing God. As we begin this Lenten season, I encourage you to check your heart. Have a spiritual check up by spending time in a way that allows you to focus on the voice of God.