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Monday, November 5, 2007

Priorities

I’m currently listening to an audio book titled, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg. It’s a terrific reminder that at the end of the game of life, we don’t take our “stuff” with us. We leave it all behind… And, John asks, what do you want to leave behind? What will be your legacy? Will it be the accumulation of “stuff” or will it be an impact you made in others’ lives?

One of his quotes is, “Many people aren't living their priorities, they are trying to do guilt management...” I often find that to be the case for me. I have spent a lot of time defining my passions, my gifts and my priorities, but I have not yet completely overhauled my calendar to reflect those things. Instead, I handle the crises as they come... If I’m behind at work, I take time at home to try to get caught up. (By the way, getting caught up NEVER happens.) Then, when my family feels neglected, I put the work aside, but then the family is so used to functioning without me that we all end up in separate rooms doing separate things (surfing the internet, playing Xbox, reading, watching TV…). In the midst of that my mom calls from over 1,000 miles away and says, “I haven’t heard from you forever!” (I remind her it’s only been about a week, to which she responds that is too long.) Around 11p I remember that I was supposed to call the children’s ministry director at church to discuss volunteer opportunities, but it’s certainly too late at night for that…it goes on tomorrow’s “To Do” list (where it’s been for about a month). Oh yeah, all of the managers at work are reading First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, so before I drift off to sleep I pick up the book and end up reading the same page about three times because I keep nodding off. By the end of the day, I haven’t prayed as deliberately as I’d like, it’s hit or miss if I completed my devotions, and I sure haven’t had time to work on my “life plan” based on the previously mentioned passions, gifts and priorities. All this leads me to question what my priorities really are.

In the book, John tells a story of an executive who kept saying he would have more time for his family and himself, “once things settle down”. Guess what, folks…things never settle down. This executive kept climbing the proverbial ladder…up, up, up…until he fell off and died. Time ran out before he had the chance to “have more time”. There is no more time…we all have 24 hours in a day, and we all have a finite amount of time to live. How will you chose to spend that time? How will I??

The life story of Jesus is not about someone climbing up the ladder, but it is instead the Son of God descending the ladder to become a servant of mankind. The King of the universe deserved an earthly throne, but instead took on the cross. It was His outpouring of love that moved him to live and die for us. What will we live and die for?

"Lord, I desire to live for You. I pray for Your priorities to be my priorities. Help me to live my life based on Your calling, and may my daily calendar and actions reflect that. Forgive me Lord for climbing a ladder that has led me away from my family and even away from You. Help me to descend that ladder and create a clear path for me to follow. Lord, I know that you call us to step out in faith. It is not enough to ask You to show me the way, I have to take it. The priests carrying the ark had to step in the river before you stopped it from flowing. Moses had to stretch his hand out over the sea, and the Israelites had trust You to walk through enormous walls of water on either side of them to reach safety. Give me the strength to trust You fully, and may my mustard-seed size faith move any mountains that block my path. Thank you, Jesus, for descending the ladder and modeling for us on this earth how to really “live life”."

5 comments:

Linds said...

Hi Michelle...I am so glad you are enjoying the book. I loved it, and I learnt so much about myself by reading it. Not always comfortable! I am so grateful that it is never too late to make some changes in the way I live and look at things. God is a God of love and grace, even for me. Amazing!

Coach J said...

Sounds like I need to read that book. That quote about guilt mgt. is so true. About the time that I weed out all the "good stuff--but not for me to do" that life offers, along comes a person that can lay on a guilt trip like no other. And I have to manage that guilt. I hate it. It's so hard to keep focused on the goal because of all the "golden opportunities" that our culture has to offer. I'm so thankful for God's slowness to anger, and His ability to work in spite of us.
Great post!

Penless Thoughts said...

This struggle is life long I am afraid. We must constantly remind ourselves to put Jesus FIRST and keep our eyes fixed on HIM and HIM ONLY!!!!
Susan

Sharon Lynne said...

"things never settle down."

That is so true...although I keep forgetting this truth.

It makes me want to stop waiting for things to settle down!

About family members doing their own thing: That sounds like our family too. In the evening, each person is on the computer or watching TV and doing their own thing. And my husband and I are home most of the time! So "spending time together" must be a conscious choice. It's not necessarily a result of parents being home more...although that makes it easier.

Thank you for a post that makes us think. May we spend our time well!

Erin said...

Michelle,
Your description of a typical day sounds so much like the character in the beginning of the Boundaries book. That was me about 2 years ago. Frantic, Frazzled, and Frustrated!!! This is such a small thing, but I finally (like just this past week) started making a point to lie on the floor with Jackson after dinner to play a game, chat, and laugh. The joy on his face lit me up inside!! Sure, I could have been doing a million other things...but not one of them was more important that building my son's self-esteem.

Thanks for being open and sharing your quest for a simpler life. Interestingly, "simple" certainly does not mean boring!! Quite the opposite, I've found...and so rewarding.

Love,
Erin