Archives for posts with tag: schedule

fullMy life is full of relationships and demands. My calendar is full of appointments and deadlines. My house is full of stuff. I have filled my life, my time, and my heart with all sorts of things that take up space and time. Some are very important; some just take my energy with minimal return. I can have my “hands full”, a full day, or a heart filled with whatever I am consumed by that day.

How can I be so busy, have so many demands, and still feel so empty sometimes? Why is it when I ask God to fill me with his Spirit, sometimes it feels like He’s ignoring me? I’m doing everything I know to do to obey Him and honor my obligations and responsibilities, and I don’t always feel fulfilled.

I suspect that I’m the problem. I am a task oriented person. I can fill every empty space on my calendar and in my heart in dozens of different ways. And then I wonder, why don’t I feel fulfilled? I’m not lazy. I’m doing all the stuff I think is right; why doesn’t it seem to work? I ask God to fill me with peace, but I refuse to let go of the busyness. I ask God to fill me with compassion, but I’m still clinging to pride and nurturing judgmentalism. I ask God to fill me with joy, but I’m still focused on the things that irritate me. Perhaps God can’t fill me with what I need because I’m so full of myself.

The difference between having what the world describes as a “full” life and being fulfilled is the source of the filling. In Luke 14 Jesus told a parable of a man who gave a feast, but those he invited had lives that were too full to attend. They were busy; they had responsibilities and relationships that were more important than attending the feast. So the man sent his servant to invite people who were willing to make space for that feast, who were willing to come and fill themselves at his table. If God is the man giving the feast and Jesus is the servant issuing the invitation, that makes us the ones receiving the invitation. We can choose to fill our time with our stuff and our activity, or we can feast on what God prepares for us.

Filling can be an active verb. I can fill my life, my calendar, and my heart with countless things. I can choose to be filled with joy or hope or pride or anger. But then when I seek God, I’ve left him no room to fill me with anything else. God has a history of filling his people. He filled oil jars and stomachs; He filled mouths with songs and His word; He filled the Tabernacle and the Temple with the manifestation of his presence; He filled his disciples with His Spirit.

But filling can also be a passive verb. An empty glass can be filled by someone thirsty in the same way an empty heart can be filled by God. Attempting to fill an empty heart with material possessions or busyness or relationships will always create only temporary relief. But things, activity, and people will always, ultimately disappoint us. We cannot expect them to fill the spaces that are meant to be filled by a relationship with God.

Being filled is nearly always a matter of choice. I can fill my glass with water or Dr. Pepper or fruit juice. I can fill my life with my best efforts and intentions. Or, I can make space for God to fill me with what will ultimately fulfill me.

Perhaps what stands between your full life and fulfillment for your soul is your decision to give God an empty place in your heart, on your calendar. What would happen if you emptied yourself of expectations and control and allowed God to do a new thing? If your self-satisfaction was rooted in understanding how much God loves you, rather than in measuring your own accomplishment? If you joy came from within, rather than being contingent on the attitudes of others?

Fulfilled does not equal busy; having demands on your time and attention will not fill your soul. You were created for relationship with God. Make space for Him. You will find that being filled with His Spirit is much more fulfilling than anything you can accomplish on your own.

The last month of my life has been filled with a tight schedule of family obligations, work responsibilities, and tedious chores.  Never did I “wonder” how I would fill my spare time; I didn’t have any.  The saddest part of that is that I’m teaching a Bible study by Margaret Feinberg on finding the “wonder” of God in life.  She asks that we list all the wonderful moments when we see something that helps us recognize the wonder and power of God speaking to us in our daily lives.  My list was pitifully short….but my self-imposed “to do” list was done!!  There were a few mornings when I truly, humbly asked God to help me see those moments, but my plea was brief and my attention usually went elsewhere quickly – out the door, to my car, and off to the demands of my day.

My favorite flower is an iris.  I am delighted each May when the irises around my driveway bud and bloom.  I think they have the most incredibly beautiful flower, and, more than any of the other flowers in my yard, I eagerly anticipate their blooms in the spring.

Guess what’s blooming right beside where I park my car?  In October!!  God heard my prayers for an awareness of his presence and recognized my need for delight in the midst of all my mundane…and I have white irises in full bloom for the second time this year.

I’m sure some horticulturalist somewhere will try to explain this with some natural anomaly.  (Though how anyone can study nature and dismiss God is way beyond my understanding!)  But I know that this flower has only bloomed in May.  I know that I prayed that prayer in haste, vaguely hoping God would give me something to put on my list.  He not only answered that prayer and allowed me to see his glory right in my driveway where I couldn’t miss it; he did it in a way that brought special delight to my heart.  I am brought to my knees by the love of a powerful God who can alter the rules of nature to bring delight to the heart of his children.  He wants me to see him in the midst of whatever I’m doing.  This weekend, he made that reminder look like white iris blooms.

How often has God planted delight in my path, but I’ve missed it as I rushed by with a different agenda?  How many times has God displayed his majesty, but my attention was on other things?  How pathetic that I’ve ignored delight so that I could focus on tedium.  May I never again be so self focused that I forget or choose not to look for God in my day.  Jesus promised “I am with you always”.  May watching for his wonder and presence move to the top of my “to do” list.  May we choose to find delight and wonder in our awesome God – every day.