My leadership at my church feels fruitless and my last few sermons stank; in the first 34 weeks of this year, I published only 25 “weekly” articles; and all my service to a partner charity feels last minute, like I’m doing everything in the nick of time.
Recently, I spend less time with my wife than I want; my brother (who lives in Australia) is visiting for two months and I’ve only met with him once; I’m having far fewer one-on-one meetings to care for acquaintances; and I’m falling behind in paperwork, housework, and email.
Bilbo Baggins once reflected, “I feel like butter scraped over too much bread.”
My heart says, “Me too.” I have too much to do and too little time to do it. My activities suffer from inadequate attention because I’m off to the next thing, which I’ll also do badly because something else (or someone else) cries out for attention. This morning I read this old quote:
God created the world out of emptiness, and as long as we are empty, he can make something out of us.
God is calling me to embrace my emptiness.
He Guides Us All There
Time management wisdom tells us to focus on the important and shed the unimportant. That’s easy when you have one “kid” but when about when you have nine? I don’t sense God releasing me from any of my “dependents” (though I keep asking!).
God stretches us, leading us to a life beyond natural resources. There is something he likes about the poor and he seems attracted to the needy. Because we cry out to him. He not only calls us to being poor in spirit, he guides us to that very place:
- He leads Moses and Israelites into the Red Sea” trap”, where only God can save.
- He calls Gideon to reduce his army from tens of thousands to three hundred.
- He sends schoolboy David—not strapping Saul—to fight hulking Goliath.
Why does God continually maneuver us into places of weakness? Because he needs our poverty more than our riches; he wants our neediness more than our usefulness.
Which is exactly where God is bringing me. It’s the total opposite of self-esteem and natural giftedness; he is transforming my spirit of pride (I can do it!) into a spirit of emptiness (HELP!)
God’s friendship is with those who know their poverty.
We Need That Friendship
Too many books on spiritual wisdom teach us exactly how to prosper: The Seven Essential Steps to Raising Godly Children, or The Manual for Successful Preaching. But Christianity teaches us that our greatest need is friendship with God. Oswald Chambers said it this way,
He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship [with Him] that we maintain and the surrounding … qualities produced by that relationship.
That is all God asks, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.
Amid my “too much to do and too little time to do it,” God is calling me back to friendship with him. It’s not the giftedness I offer, but the poverty I bring.
All we really need is need.