Busyness is the enemy of spiritual growth. Busyness is a trap, mindset, a wall of self-defense, an addiction. Busyness is about lack of focus and confused priorities. At least that’s what they say. Surely there’s something true about all of that.
But what about those times when life is just full, full of commitments and obligations and unexpected requirements that you can’t do anything about? What then?
Is it just impossible for a single mom with three kids to be spiritual? Is it an unreasonable expectation for a guy trying to take care of his family, support a hurting friend, and run a business to have a real and on-going relationship with God? Is the only answer to go on a retreat?
Busy People Can’t Be Spiritual?
The truth is that we live in a busy culture, with expectations and obligations from every side. Even if we aren’t hiding behind our busyness, we still have to make ends meet, don’t we? Most of us find our lives weaving between the expectations and obligations of work, home, family, friendships, paying the bills, and trying to sneak in some time here or there for the things we enjoy.
In the middle of that kind of life, how are we to grow spiritually? I grew up in a faith community that talked a lot about taking time to be with God. You started the day with a devotional (Back then we called it “The Morning Watch.”) You kept a weekly Sabbath. You were encouraged to go on retreats. This was all on top of normal weekly church commitments.
If growing spiritually takes all of that, who can do it? I mean, taking time out is a great antidote to busyness, but, frankly, there are just times when you can’t take time out. A kid gets sick. Your parent gets dementia and you become the care-taker. One spouse loose a job, and the other has to work twice as hard. Things happen that are out of your control.
Here’s what you need to know:
Even though you may not have the luxury of taking time out, you are never out of range of God. In fact, it’s arguable that it is these busy seasons that are the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. Why? Anyone can feel spiritual when they are on vacation. Take a three-day retreat to the mountains with no cell phone, and you’ll have plenty of time to read, to journal, to reflect. That’s easy to do. It’s equally easy to not bring any of it back with you into your every-day life.
The real challenge is to find ways to connect with God in the middle of the life you actually have. In some seasons that means connecting with God in the middle of busyness.
Learning to Live the With-God Life
Many of us, who grew up in the church, are used to living a “Go to God” kind of life. Certain key moments, certain events, certain activities, even places connected you to God. Your responsibility was to show up. Go to church. Go to Bible Study. Go to the youth retreat. Go to church camp. These were the moments of connection, and we treated them that way, like we were filling up our spiritual tank until the next opportunity.
But in John 15, Jesus tells us that our life with God is not a “Go to God” kind of life. Jesus tells us that our connection to God is like a branch connected to the vine. This is an ongoing connection. The branch doesn’t “plugs in” once a day or once a week. It’s got an always-on connection.
Jesus was inviting us to live a “With God” kind of life, a life where everything we did was done in God’s presence, in connection with God, with an awareness of God’s heart and purpose.
If you’re living a “Go to God” kind of life, busyness is always the enemy of spiritual growth. Each obligation and commitment in your day is time that you can’t spend connecting with God. The only solution is to disconnect from those many activities so you can reconnect with God. There are times when this kind of disconnecting is helpful.
But if you’re living a “With God” kind of life, busyness doesn’t have to stand between you and God. God is with you during every commitment and obligation. Instead of needing to cram religious activities into your day on top of all your other commitments, you simply go about your day seeking God’s presence and guidance in and around the things you have to do.
Do You Want more Spiritual Focus in the Middle of Your Busyness?
Living a “With God” kind of life is a different perspective, but for me it is translating into more peace, more presence with my family and the people that I love, and much lower stress as I face the busyness this season has brought me. This is something you can find, too.
That’s why I wrote and create a new online course called “Not Just One More Thing: Spiritual Growth for Busy People.” It’s a 10-week online video course. Each lesson is short, focused, and will give you a very practical way to stay connected to God in the midst of an ongoing busy life.
I developed this course originally as an email course that I gave away as an email opt-in incentive, and over 700 people went through the course in that way. I’ve taken their feedback and questions, and a whole bunch of new material, and created a new and expanded version.
If you’d like some practical guidance for how to live a With-God life, in the middle of your very busy world, then give this a try.