My husband and I are seminary students, working our way through graduate school with a myriad of side jobs with odd hours to fit around our class schedules. This past March, we became parents and joined the community of crazy people attempting to juggle seminary, work, marriage, parenthood, friendships, individual interests, and sanity.
A few weeks ago, as I shared with my husband how I was feeling a little overwhelmed by our schedules, he told me about a conversation he’d had recently with an old teammate from his time with Cru. They were talking about what he was learning and he got on the topic of some word parsing he’d done recently. Feeling tired from the assignment, he expressed, “And sometimes I wonder why we’re even doing this…”
Her response was quick and natural. “Yeah, like, how is this going to help me love God more?”
I snorted a little. One of those little pfft laughs, as if to say, “What does that have to do with anything?”
But then I paused. What a profound question. “Is this going to help me love God more?” Isn’t that what it’s all about, after all? Loving God more, with everything we’ve got? (Luke 10:27) The way Luke recorded it, “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that includes all my schedule. I mentally scanned through my weekly activities, checking yes and no by each one. For every “What is God’s will for your life” talk I’ve ever sat through, every “How to follow God” blog I’ve ever read, somehow this concept never clicked with me before that moment.
It soon became clear that this wasn’t about “Christian” activities vs. “secular” activities and that my ‘yes’es would be hard ‘no’s for other people. I had responsibilities that were “good,” Christian-esque, even godly, but did they lead me deeper in love with the Creator of everything?… Well, no. I had things on my list that were mundane, “worldly”, and far from a church building, but did they bring me to my knees in admiration of my Savior, yes! This was not about what made me feel the warm fuzzies or what my traditional religious background told me should bring me closer to God, but what actually deepened my desire for the Lord’s real, living and active presence in my life.
As I began to look at my time through this lens, I found life in everyday responsibilities; life I should have expected from reading God’s word. The call to love the Lord with everything we have is not a random collection of commands in the middle of the gospel. This is the answer the law gives to the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus not only approves, he says that if we do this, we will live. (Luke 10:28). The psalmist praises God as our Good Shepherd who “restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) Following after him is reviving. Even when it’s hard, even when it means saying no and letting go of things we have been holding onto, he restores us. It’s who he is. Knowing Jesus is eternal life. (John 17:3)
Jesus often asked his followers biting questions that went straight to the issues of their hearts. He asked the rich man “Why do you call me good?” (Mark 10:17-22). He asked those gathered to listen to him “Haven’t you read this Scripture…” (Mark 12:1-11) He asked his disciples “What are you seeking?” (John 1:35-39). These questions exposed the things they were struggling with and desiring most.
So I am asking you today: Will it help you love God more? It’s a small, simple question with potential for big consequences. While it’s hardly the answer to all of your problems, I would encourage you to sit back and reflect on it today. What in your day causes you to worship? Do you prioritize and nourish those parts of your life? Do you encourage that same thing in others?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your commitments, take a minute to pray today, ask God to help you love him more, with all your heart, soul, strength, mind and time.
Lord, I want to fall more and more in love with who you are. Help me to see clearly through the fog of pressure to succeed, to impress and to live for temporary praise. Help me to fix my eyes on you, in all I do, and give me discernment and strength to set boundaries for my life; to say no to the things that distract me so that I can say yes to your loving leadership.