(Today’s post is written by a friend of mine, Bekah Mason. Thank you Bekah for filling a need I had today and so spot on as well!)
The last few weeks have been an overwhelming blur. Every facet of my life is either ending (teaching school, coaching softball, end of a ministry year at church, writing deadlines) or beginning (new semester of classes I’m taking, new writing projects, opportunities presented weekly to do more and more) simultaneously. Some projects have ended but have brought no relief to my internal stress level because deadlines for others fly past me like I’m sitting still. I just can’t get caught up and I certainly can’t get it all done.
Some seasons of life are like that. Women in every walk of life can describe a time when life has just gotten out of control. It can lead to the desire to just stop everything completely. Rest becomes our desired goal, and leisure can become our idol. But in between the two extremes of insanity and nothingness is the place the Lord has been quietly teaching me about recently. I have been studying the Gospel of John along with my 9th grade Bible classes. In John 17 we find the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus prays for himself, he prayers for his disciples, and he prays for us.
When studying this passage, I had intended to emphasize with my students the aspect of Jesus praying for us and for the unity he desired in his followers. Nothing will speak to the heart of a 9th grade girl, I thought, like knowing Jesus prayed for her and that he prayed that she would get along with others. But on the morning we arrived at this passage, that is not the section the Holy Spirit used to pierce my heart. It was, instead, a portion of the prayer Jesus prayed for himself.
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
That last phrase is what rang through my soul. The work that you gave me to do. For months I have been in permanent “Martha mode”, running around crazy trying to save the world and I have failed miserably. And more than once I have asked of God, “Why do you have me doing all of this if I can’t do it?” I seem to have thought that Philippians 4:13 means that I can do all things at the same time through Christ who strengthens me.
My Messiah complex has gotten in the way, and I have tried to meet every need I’ve come across, say yes to every opportunity offered to me.
The sad thing about that Messiah complex is that it deceives us into do more than even our Messiah did.
Jesus did the work the Father gave to him to do. Nothing more. Nothing less. As you read through the Gospels, you can see the “missed opportunities” in the ministry of Jesus. But when your goal is to do only the things the Father gives you to do, there are no missed opportunities.
When I am asked to do something, this is the question I meditate on before answering a request. I am committed to not taking on new projects if I haven’t finished an old project first. No more immediately answering, “I can get that done. No problem!” I’m praying through my answer instead of saying “Yes,” immediately and counting the cost later.
The problem with doing everything is that God didn’t call us to busyness. He called us to relationships. This is why Mary was doing the better thing by sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was working away. This is why Jesus was in conversation with his Father the night before he died instead of desperately preaching on a corner outside the Temple.
When we do only the things that the Father has given us to do, it opens the door for us to be the women he has called us to be. The emphasis of the Father is who we are, not what we do. By focusing on the question Can Do v. Called to Do? I am reminded to be in relationship with him, to invite Christ into even the smallest daily decisions of my life, and to remember that we serve him best when we serve him only in the places and ways he has called us to serve.
In the end, the lesson I am learning is this: to do God’s work in your own way is to still serve self. And God shares his glory with no other. When I try to do everything, I am setting myself up as Savior. It’s a job at which I fail miserably every time.