Sometimes, I feel like our expectations of success and busyness drive us away from truly enjoying the life God intended for us. Actually, scratch that. I know that is the case. In America, we have all of these activities and studies consuming our time that things like family game night or time alone aren’t even a possibility. We have plans, plans for vacation or retirement or even the weekend that consume our thoughts. We always have something to do.
It’s a bit different here in the Dominican Republic. They have a word that doesn’t even translate into English because it is non-existent in the US culture. The word “sobremesa” describes the time after dinner, talking for sometimes hours on end and getting to know people better. Restaurants will not rush you, because they understand sobremesa; it’s understood that you ask for the bill when you are ready to leave. When in America do we ever not feel rushed? Does God still speak to us in our time of busyness? Yes, He can. Would we be able to hear Him more clearly and get to know Him better if we freed ourselves of worrying thoughts and had more time alone with Him? Absolutely.
I am completely preaching to myself here. I love to be around people, always doing things and feeling like I’m making a difference. This past weekend, our team was able to get away on a retreat to the beautiful mountains of the DR. We didn’t have wifi, homework, or any obligations, and let me tell you how refreshing that was and how convicted I became of how I spend my time. Do I need to say yes to every opportunity to serve or every opportunity to do things with people? Not at all! Sometimes, that gives me the option to rest and relax in His presence. Other times, it gives me the opportunity to get things done so that later I can have random play dates with the neighbors or feel free to talk and get to know a fellow student better. Even if I do have a lot of things to do, is it worth it to take the time to stop on the street and play with kids for a bit? Is it worth it to stop what I’m doing and pray with a friend? Absolutely.
What does being busy accomplish in the long run, anyways? The answers may vary, depending on your idea of success.
True success might not always be what you expect; usually, it is not. Yesterday, during the retreat, we went hiking in the mountains of the DR. We did not expect the level of intensity, harder than some high peaks in the Adirondacks. I had one goal only, to get to the top, and unfortunately, we didn't make it. Was it a trip wasted? Is the end goal more important than the journey it takes to get there? Sometimes, our view on our journey needs to change. And I have to say, even though we didn't get to the top, we got a pretty nice view in the end.
We are such busybodies, but the fact is that we can accomplish nothing worthwhile without God, and God uses the journey as much as He uses the end goal. How do we even know what true success is if we are not aligned with God first and take time to pray about it? Busyness is a tactic from Satan, and time to get to know God’s word is essential for perspective on what truly is important in life. During the retreat, I was finally able to spend time with God without having to check my watch, making sure that I wasn’t missing class or something else important. Let me tell you, that was one of the most freeing things and because of that my mind was clear and God was able to speak to me like never before.
Let time never be Lord of my life.