If there is one thing I have learned in the almost two years since I began this journey, it is how to be busy. I am good at it. I am good at to-do lists, at filling up my schedule with meetings and conversations and times to plan the next day’s activities.
What I really suck at at is the in-between times. The times that are supposed to be set aside for me to rest. I am not good at being still. Being quiet. Resting. Instead I find myself dreading those times as I force my body to stop moving at 100 miles an hour and sit still while my mind continually races over and over all of the things that I “should” be doing.
On Monday morning our team was in the center praying together as we do at the beginning of each day. As I sat there on the floor I heard the Lord whisper, “It is about living in the spaces.” I thought, “what does that even mean?” and I quickly slid it into the “to-ponder-more-over-later” file in my brain. But this little phrase has kept surfacing the last three days, and I am beginning to sort out what it means. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far; it means that I am not called to busyness. I am not called to live a life that is full of doing. Shocking, I know. To most of us it sounds backward. Especially when so often those speaking into our lives emphasize what we should “do” for God. As if He even needs us to do something for Him! God is not a helpless Being waiting on His people to do His work for Him. Rather, He is a loving God who chooses to let His people in to get the “inside look” on what He is already doing. We get to peek behind the curtain and get the behind-the-scenes on His master plan! He is a God who built partnership with His creation into His plan for the world. He loves us so much that He enjoys having us working side-by-side with Him! How incredible is that?
So, if the most important thing is not what I “do” for God, then what is the most important thing?
Last week I was preparing a devotion to share with our Rahab’s Rope staff at our staff retreat, and God brought the story of Mary and Martha to my mind. It is a story I have heard countless times, but for some reason it struck me in a new way this time around. What struck me was this; Jesus didn’t tell Martha that she was wrong for working. But He saw into her heart and knew that her busyness caused her worry and stress – her work was not flowing out of her relationship with Him, but rather out of the need to be “busy” and “get things done.” So much of the time I do things for the same reason as Martha. I feel like running around like a chicken with my head cut off will get the Lord’s attention. “See God, I am working so hard for YOU!” But He sees my heart and knows how stressed out the whole thing is making me, and He leans in and whispers “live in the spaces.”
The spaces are the in-between times. The times that aren’t scheduled. The times when I sit around trying not to dwell on what I “should” be working on. The times when I come to a stop and regroup. Those are the times in which life abundant is found. Those are the times in which He wants me to dwell. To sit at His feet – bask in His presence and in the knowledge that I am His child and am unconditionally loved. It is then that I realize that He will not love or accept me more based on the amount of work that I “accomplish” for the Kingdom. He already loves and accepts me to the fullest! How often do I fail to live out of that knowledge, and instead strive to earn what is already mine.
So I am learning what it looks like to live in the spaces. The spaces in between the lines on my to-do list. The spaces in between “ministry.” The spaces that are an open invitation – an invitation to sit with the King, the Father, the One whom my soul loves.
How do you live in the “spaces” in your life? Any advice or words of wisdom from experience?
A photo from our India staff retreat