Busy and Overwhelmed!

Thomas would run around, all hyped up and doing everything. But he had a big problem; he was so busy, that he kept running past the opportunities that were staring him in his face. He would beat himself up, he would get frustrated and confused; he couldn't understand why he was doing so much, yet he wasn't moving forward.

One day, I managed to get him to stop. I told him, "you need to slow down, so you can get something done!" He actually listened, he slowed down and started doing what he needed to do. As a result, and after a decade of being homeless, Thomas managed to get himself an income and move into his own apartment. He's still there today!

Thomas isn't the only one; I see it happen all time; I'm guilty of the same thing! We rush around at a rapid pace, only to end up exploding. It's only when we slow down, while still doing what we need to do, that we are finally able to move forward! 

This year has been unusual for me! I've either been extremely busy, or I've been on vacation, visiting my people in New Zealand. Before I hopped on that plane, I experienced one of the busiest month's of my life, so while I was over there, I spent a lot of time praying and reflecting on how I should deal with the busyness in my own life. 

I know how feeling drained and exhausted can affect me and my family. I know how I can beat myself up because I don't get certain things done. I also know how being busy can end up doing more harm than good. So I'm coming to you all, very much trying to figure this out myself, while trying to stay faithful to the Kingdom of God through it all. 

I understand, through my own experiences, that "idle hands are the devil's workshop", but I also understand, also through my own experience, that "being busy" can lead to fatigue, anger, guilt or even burnout! We need wisdom to strike the right balance!  

It's important to pace ourselves. It's important to work hard, but it's just as important to not be overcome by that work. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatians with these words, "let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit!" (6:9)

Paul is telling us to wisely pace ourselves, so that we can endure until the very end; so we don't give up, quit, or return to the life we once lived. He's telling us "do good", but he's also telling us to be careful so we won't explode.

I've seen it happen too many times; someone's all hyped up and doing everything, running around and doing his or her thing at a rapid pace, only to end up disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged! Paul warns us, telling us to pace ourselves, so that we won't crash and we can endure until the end and reap a good crop! 

As I mentioned earlier, at Cornerstone, I often tell people; "slow down, so you can get something done". Certain people are so busy taking care of business, that they keep on running past the opportunities staring them in their faces. It's only when they actually slow down, while still doing what they need to do, that they finally get housing, that elusive job and start moving forward! 

Jesus was very busy, He had countless demands on him all the time. People were constantly coming to Him, needing His attention, asking Him questions, needing to be healed, crowding in on him and inviting Him over for dinner. Jesus had to pace himself too, as the demands and requests never ended. He needed to live in the balance himself, so that He'd fulfill His mission, "harvest a good crop" and endure to the end.

I want us to look at how Jesus lived his busy life, and 3 things He did to stay afloat. We're going to turn to Mark 6; starting at verse 30...

“The apostles Jesus had sent out came back to him. They gathered around him and told him about all they had done and taught. Jesus and his followers were in a very busy place. There were so many people that he and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come with me. We will go to a quiet place to be alone. There we will get some rest.” So Jesus and his followers went away alone." Mark 6:30-31 ERV

Firstly; we need to rest and bond with faithful people we can really trust and who will tell us the truth.

Jesus knew His disciples were weary. They had been very busy, so he decided to take his close companions away to a secluded place, so they could all be together and get some rest. We need those times too, where we can encourage one another, lift one another up and help each other along the path. We need to find good faithful people who'll be there with us, through thick and thin. We need to find people who'll be honest with us and give us solid advice. We need to find people who aren't scared to tell us the truth. We need people who aren't afraid to tell us when to speed up, when to slow down or when to rest. We all need others and we all need to know we're not alone. 

Even though Jesus knew His disciples needed rest and some precious time together, it doesn't all go to plan, does it? Something got in the way and prevented that much needed rest from happening. Listen to what happened next.

"They went in a boat to a place where no one lived. But many people saw them leave and knew who they were. So people from every town ran to the place where they were going and got there before Jesus. As Jesus stepped out of the boat, he saw a large crowd waiting. He felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd to care for them. So he taught the people many things." Mark 6:32-34 ERV

His compassion didn't stop there. When He finished teaching them, Jesus realized that this massive crowd of over 5000 people was very hungry and it was getting dark. Jesus saw the need and miraculously turned 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish into a huge feast that left everybody satisfied and free to go home. 

Secondly; even though we have certain plans, we need to be free to live out the Kingdom of God in our midst, to meet the needs before us! 

Jesus sought rest for him and his companions, but when He saw the crowd, He "felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd to care for them!" There will be times when we've planned rest or we'll have other things on our schedule, but Jesus will call us to change those plans and respond to somebody that needs our attention right there and then!

Last Friday evening, I had just got home from a busy week at work and my kids had just got home from camp. We had a plan! We were going to relax and chill out together. We all needed it. But that quickly turned to custard when I went downstairs. Someone called out my name to help out this homeless lady, who was standing in our lobby. 

To be honest, I wanted to ignore this situation. I wanted to walk on by. I just wanted to chill out with my family. I wanted the people who had called out my name, to be the ones to help this lady. But then I realized, I needed to stop being so selfish, because she needed my help, not theirs! I was the one, not them, with connections to get her into our shelter. This poor lady needed my help, and she needed it immediately! I had to delay my plans! 

At first, I thought it was just going to be a quick phone call, but it turned into finding a car to drive her to the shelter. You see; this lady is a veteran with chronic injuries, who was unable to walk the few blocks it takes to get from my lobby to Cornerstone Shelter. She needed more help! Standing before me was a "sheep without a shepherd to care for her". I ended up driving her there, where she ate dinner and now has a place to sleep and get the help she needs. 

When we are trying to live as Jesus wants us to live; we need to be flexible and free enough to change our plans. When a "sheep without a shepherd" stands before us, we need to respond! That's what Jesus calls us to do! 

Finally, after Jesus fed and met the needs of all those people, the passage continues; "Then Jesus told the followers to get into the boat. He told them to go to the other side of the lake to Bethsaida. He said he would come later. He stayed there to tell everyone they could go home. After he said goodbye to them, he went up into the hills to pray.” Mark 6:45-46 ERV

Finally, we need to get away by ourselves. Just us and God! We need silence! We need to pray, so we can hear and be strengthened by God! 

Jesus did this frequently, he often went up into the hills to pray. He was renewed and strengthened in these times. He'd go up into the hills to be refreshed, and be reminded of what His purpose and priorities were! Jesus knew what He needed to do and where He needed to go, but He used those times of silence and prayer for direction and to be strengthened. He needed them, as He prepared for the rough and busy roads that lay before Him.

We need to do likewise! We need to make time and find places to be alone; where it's just us and God! There aren't hills here in Chicago, but we need to find our own places of silence and solitude, where it's just us and God. We need these times of prayer, so we can be strengthened and guided along our difficult paths.

I want to close with a quote I came across yesterday by Mother Teresa; it speaks about how we all need to guided by Jesus. We need Him to be front and center in our lives, no matter how busy we are: "The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence in order to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. Jesus is always waiting for us in silence."



A brief summary of why I wrote this: There's a ministry on the West-side of Chicago called Mission:USA; every Tuesday night they have a Church service called The BRIDGE. Their services are open to everybody, but especially those who find it hard to gel in their local congregations! Or to put into cruder terms; a lot of these men and women are ex-offenders, homeless and low-income folk who have felt ostracized and rejected by many churches, so their mission is to be a bridge between prison, the streets and the Church. The Bridge helps these wonderful men and women find churches that will welcome them with open arms.....
And isn't this exactly what the Gospel and the "Kingdom of God" is all about?

Every Tuesday night, The Bridge has a host team from a Church, who greet the guests and provide a meal. The guests anonymously submit questions about their "walk of faith", and staff from The Bridge pick out a relevant question. Meanwhile, they have invited 3 pastors from 3 different churches to come and give a 10 minute sermon each about this specific question or topic. In my humble opinion, this is a great concept and ministry, who's staff is very loving, compassionate and supportive to the "least of these".
 
This was a sermon preached on 8/25/15, in response to this question;“Busy and Overwhelmed!”

How does a busy person let go of their schedule? God has restored me to sanity, and showed me how to live a productive life without drugs. But I have so many meetings, and so many things to plan for, and if I don’t get it all done, I beat up on myself. I feel confused and tired. 

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