Arranged or Re-Arranged

Arranged or Re-Arranged

Like many of us in these days, we may find we have more time on our hands with which we don't know what to do.  We may find ourselves restless, going over one mental list after another, only to then become overwhelmed, and not motivated to do anything at all.

This past Saturday, I was pretty useless.  I rose early, did my devotions, put the cats out, had breakfast, sat back in my chair, and pulled out some crossword puzzles.  In a while, I let the cats back in and FPD set in (feline paralysis disorder - as someone called it - you know, you can't move with kitties on your lap - a good excuse for not getting anything done).  I worked some more puzzles.  As they started to move around, it was time for lunch, I let the cats out and then in, and the morning's activities were repeated; and when supper was over, the activities were repeated once more, and it was bedtime.  I didn't feel like I had accomplished a thing.

A friend of mine shared part of her class studies with me.  Theologian Henri Nouwen in his book Spiritual Formation - Following the Movements of the Spirit wrote,

"Prayer is Wasting Time with God.  The world says, 'If you are not making good use of your time, you are useless'.  Jesus says: 'Come spend some useless time with me'."

"Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things.  Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God.  To not be useful is to remind myself that if anything important or fruitful happens through prayer, it is God who achieves the result."

The story of Mary and Martha comes to mind when reading this (Luke 10:38-42).  Martha, busy in the kitchen, was upset that Mary, instead of helping her, was sitting at Jesus' feet.  Martha was working on her to-do list and this time expected help and also expected Jesus to be on the same page as she and validate her perspective.

That Saturday, I felt like I was wasting time, and my thoughts were that God was probably not at all pleased with me in the way I was using my time.  The "ought-tos" - that list of things I should be doing - overshadowed my openness to God that day and I felt guilty for not using my time better.  And in the shadows of my guilt, I was not hearing God speak to me.

Fast forward to the next day, Sunday, the Lord's day.  It started out just like Saturday, except for one thing - I didn't sit back down in my chair.  Instead, I stood there and looked at it.  Though my living room is small, the chair was in the back corner, and in a spot where there is a little less light.  For whatever reason, after looking at it for a few moments, and forgive me, Lord, I know it's Sunday, but I just had to pull it out of the corner and put it closer to the picture window and re-arrange the living room (third time in three weeks).  As I did, the morning sun shone brightly on the spot to which I had moved the chair and I could see more of what was outside when I sat it in than I could previously.  My view was wider and brighter.

I think sometimes we get stuck in the way life has been arranged, whether by ourselves or by others.  Our perspective is limited by the position in which we place or find ourselves.  Maybe God wants us to change our position, and that doesn't necessarily mean that we leave the framework in which we find ourselves.  Maybe He wants to re-arrange our lives.  Maybe He knows that our to-do lists are overwhelming and that we need to spend a little time doing what appears to be useless time - and in the meanwhile unbeknownst to us, He is preparing us to change our perspective, move our position.  While we tend to work from the outside in, He tends to always be working from the inside out. 

Thomas a'Kempis, a devotional writer of the fifteenth century put it this way,

"A pure, simple, and steadfast spirit is not distracted by the multitude of things he hath to do; for he doeth all for the honor of God, and striveth within himself to be free from all self-seeking.  A good and devout man first arrangeth interiorly the work he hath to do exteriorly."

In other words, we surrender and give God first place to do His work from within our hearts.  Then looking to the Psalms, Psalm 46:10 says:

Be still, and know that I am God."

When we be still, we may feel we are useless, but our perspective, our focus changes.  It may take a while to clear the to-do lists our of our minds but when we finally get to that point, we truly know that He is God and that He will fill our minds and hearts with His presence.  Later in Psalm 100:3, we read:

"Know that the Lord is God.  It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture."

Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whatever we are not doing, we are His.  Perhaps it is in God's perspective that who we are and who we are becoming is more important than what we are doing.

How are you arranging your life right now?  Reckon God is chuckling at our plans?  Because Proverbs 16:9 tells us that:

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

May we surrender our to-do lists at the feet of Jesus.  May God reveal to us His plans for our steps in His time.  May we find some time to "waste with God" so that He works in us from the inside out.  May we lean upon Him, and in humble adoration know that He is God and that we are His.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing that anyone else can change, for He is good, and He is God.  In Jesus' name.  Amen