I received several wonderful notes this week from Vedette readers. Thanks for letting me know you are out there. I’ll keep you in prayer, too. If you are a regular reader, let me know what you are thinking about or if you have any questions. Maybe we can start a conversation! And by the way, Ebenezer will be celebrating its 170th anniversary next year (the church, not the building).
Back in the 1970s, we enjoyed the song, Cat’s in the Cradle, a ballad about a father and son and how being “too busy” passes down to the next generation. Do you remember? The father was always busy and missed most of the boy’s youth. And as the boy grew, he wanted to have time with dad, but dad was always too busy. Years later, when the father was retired and wanted to spend time with his son, the answer passed on as he answered, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time. You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu but it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad. It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
We all, to some degree, walk the tightrope between busy-ness and the important things. We tread the line between the important/necessary and the tyranny of the urgent, trying to find a balance but often becoming mired in the lake of missed opportunities. Life isn’t easy, that’s for sure!
The headlines are full of stories about parents who were too busy, for one reason or another , to give their children the necessary time, the needed instruction and guidance just because they “had too much to do.” My kids understand that I’m just trying to make ends meet. They know I love them and that they are important to me. We are too busy to spend time with the kids, to play a board game, to just sit and talk. School activities? They will have to wait; I have to clean the house.
In the same vein, many of us have made the same comments regarding our elderly parents and relatives. Mom knows I love her. She understands how busy we are right now. I’ll see Dad when I get a chance. In the balance of busyness, something/someone always has to wait. And often, the ones who wait are the ones whose love we are sure of: our children, our parents, our friends. They’ll understand.”
I’m not trying to place a burden of guilt on anyone here, just stating facts. Working several jobs and trying to support my kids’ high school band, I find myself overwhelmed by the needs around me and the things that need to be done. These are the stories of our lives in the modern world, but even in the ancient world, I’m sure they struggled with the same, but different, time constraints, just trying to survive. The “time crunch” isn’t limited to our families; it pervades all of life, especially—I know you are waiting for it—the church. Uh-oh preacher, now you are meddling. I believe in God and I love God. God knows how busy I am and how much I have to do. I can talk to God anytime. While that is true, that we can talk to God anytime, it is usually when we are asking for help getting things done, or getting around that slow driver on 160 who is holding us back, or getting a good parking space down in the city.
I wonder what our lives would look like if God if God made relationship choices as we do. Perhaps the conversation would go like this.
Believer: (singing) “I Love you, Lord, and I lift my voice. There is none like you.”
God: “I’m in the middle of something right now. Could you check back with me in a few minutes?”
Believer: “ I just want you to know how much I love you and to spend a few minutes with you, God.”
God: “I appreciate that, son, and we’ll get together soon, but right now I have important things to do.”
Believer: “Oh, okay. Talk to you soon.”
Or maybe the conversation would go like this:
Believer: “Please help me, God, I don’t know what to do.”
God: “Well, I can’t be always making your decisions. Grow up and make a decision. Wow. You must think you are the only person on earth I have to watch over! Six billion, my friend!”
Believer: “But you said to ask . . . “
God: “I know, and I’ll help you out, just not right now. Can’t talk, but you know I love you!”
I don’t think we would ever hear those conversations with God, but, unfortunately, the reverse is often true, especially when God is looking forward to spending some time with us. In the midst of life we convince ourselves that God will understand, that He knows how busy we are. I pray and worship God when the radio is on in the car. Isn’t that enough? While I
am NOT supporting a dysfunctional involvement in the church, where involvement and busyness in the church replaces the other excuses for lack of involvement in our loved ones’ lives, I am trying to make this point: Our God is a jealous God, and does not want to share first place with the world. Back some years ago an evangelist said, “The people who come to church on Sunday morning love the church; the people who come to church on Sunday evening love the preacher, but the people who come to church on Wednesday evening, they love
God.” While you really cannot measure faith that way, there is something to be said for how we choose to spend our time.
Many churches have only Sunday morning worship, just one hour out of 168 in a week, but we are too busy to get there. Don’t even talk about Sunday school! Is it any wonder many of our churches are failing? The writer of Hebrews tells us “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24,25, The Message). Just as part of being in a family requires that we spend time together, nurturing and encouraging one another, being a Christian requires meeting with other believers, nurturing and being nurtured. Go to church! Others need you, and—believe it or not—you need them, too. Put aside the old hurts and grudges and go to church. Worship with others and be a part of the conversation with God and of the work God is doing there.
One person said you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at his schedule book, another said a person’s checkbook. I won’t go that far, but I will say this, you CAN tell a Christian’s priorities by their choices, especially when it concerns church attendance and involvement. God isn’t asking you to become a “church-aholic”—ignoring your family because you are so busy with church, but God IS asking you to be a part of the family, to come to “family dinner” each week at His house and be fed from God’s Word.
Okay, I’m done. I hope to see you on Sunday. If not, find a congregation where you can worship freely and join in the fellowship. You’ll be glad you did.
Mary Kay Glunt
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
PO Box 393, Greenfield, MO 65661