It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: What a great opportunity we have right now to hit life’s reset button!
Just about everybody’s schedule has been massively interrupted because of COVID-19, and while we’re still plenty busy, it’s not our normal busyness. Obviously once this whole crisis is over, we can go right back to it all — we can do everything we’ve always done. But, this unexpected pause provides the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate our busyness and make sure we’re choosing the best ways to spend our time.
When else do we get that kind of opportunity?
Have you ever had a drawer that you know is far too cluttery? The space may have started nice and organized, but day by day you add things around the house until it becomes known as the “junk drawer.” While you may give effort to decluttering, often times the only way to bring back the organization is to dump it all out, sort through it, and start afresh. Some of the stuff should head to the trash, some should be relocated, and the rest can be put back in with purpose.
I imagine you see the connection.
Everything in your schedule has basically been dumped out on the floor. You could throw it all back in, but should you? Maybe you should. But it seems prudent to put each thing in purposefully, rather than just throwing it all back in. That way you’ll be confident you’re spending your minutes and hours and days on intentional, worthwhile pursuits (and in all likelihood, putting the important stuff in first will weed out the unnecessary or unhelpful fluff of life).
Sorting Through the Clutter
Let me start by saying, I don’t think your life is supposed to look like a minimalist, half empty, perfect looking drawer. There are so many good things we should be doing with our time and energy. In fact, a life lived for the Lord may always look a bit “cluttery” from the outside. But, when each thing is scheduled thoughtfully, you’ll know you’re experiencing the right kind of busy instead of a cluttered mess of over-commitment.
So what should get placed back in when life becomes “normal” again? Some choices will be obvious, some you should pray about, and some of it you might need to ditch (or hold off on).
Of course, there are a handful of things that are non-negotiable for the Christian.For example, we should be faithfully praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and learning about God’s word (Psalm 119:9-11). While we don’t always think of this as something to schedule in, we do have a fairly clean slate, so that would be a great place to start! When will you study your Bible and spend time in prayer? How will you make sure these spiritual disciplines remain a priority?
When it comes to church and ministry, God expects us to meet together regularly (Hebrews 10:25), to have the kind of relationships in which we meaningfully serve and love one another (1 Peter 4:10, Romans 12:10, 13:8, Galatians 5:13), and God expects us to use the abilities he’s given us to benefit the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). God also gave us the commission to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). All of these shouldn’t be squeezed in eventually, but rather, placed in purposefully.
In regards to our work and family life, God has given us various roles and responsibilities — all of which we should faithfully fulfill (Colossians 3:23, 1 Timothy 5:4). Often times, the practical matters associated with these tasks and relationships will require a large chunk of our time.
And from there, there’s a plethora of areas in which we need to obey God, but many of them are more about who we are, rather than what’s on our schedule (though living out our obedience will keep us plenty busy, and we should account for that).
Basically, anything that fits under the umbrella of properly loving God and our neighbor would fit in this category (Matthew 22:37-40).
Matters of Prayer…
After we’ve scheduled in the most obvious elements of life, there’s a lot of great things that can be added in. The question is, which ones will you choose? (And there is a lot to choose from!)
Needless to say, this is the category in which people will differ greatly in their opinions on what to be involved in, what to commit to, how to spend time, etc. And that’s why prayer is crucial. If God’s word doesn’t specify we should do something, and it doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t, the best way to move forward is through prayer. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5), think through any biblical principles that apply, and then pray some more. God will be faithful to provide guidance if we are faithful to ask for it!
And remember, no commitment is too small to pray about. Life is made up of minutes and seconds — so ultimately you’re choosing how to use your life with every commitment you make.
Not only should we add things back in intentionally, now is the time to ditch things intentionally. When it comes to less-than-profitable habits, there’s no better time to change things up and start afresh!
Notice what distracts you when you first wake up, or what causes you to waste time before you go to bed. Think of the commitments you once wished you never made, or the time suckers you’d rather avoid. As you create the new normal, don’t let these items make the cut!
Maybe there’s even aspects of your schedule that seem great, but aren’t working well in the stage of life you’re in. Sometimes we try so hard to squeeze in so much, but we can’t do it all. There is a time to hold off on some good things that may be better suited for a different season of life (which of course would not be anything in the essentials category, because that stuff is, well, essential).
Organize Your Life
There’s not too many times when the practical matters of life go back to the drawing board. But they are right now. Let’s seize that opportunity.
Or to use the previous illustration, there’s not many times when you get to take life’s busyness, dump it on the floor and evaluate what to keep and what to throw out.
And again, everything you were doing before COVID-19 may be exactly what you should be doing, but isn’t it worth confirming that reality? The benefit of doing so is far greater than the strangely satisfying feeling when you stare at a decluttered, freshly organized drawer; It’s being able to stare at your future with confidence — confidence knowing you’re using your life in the best way you know how. And that is a very satisfying feeling. More than that, it is strategic.
It’s certainly an opportunity I don’t want to pass up.