Daphne is a King Charles spaniel. We recently puppy-sat her for a week when she was just 10 weeks old. She was the size of my dog’s head, but what she lacked in size, she compensated for in fervor. She enjoyed attention, and she enjoyed her trips to the back yard, but there was one thing she loved above anything else: chewing.
We would want to snuggle her; she would want to chew. We would try to play with her; she would only chew. We would pet and praise her, and she would respond by chewing. Our big dog would show interest in her, and she would show interest in chewing. She delighted in mealtimes because she was able to chew. She chewed every waking moment, she dreamed about chewing, and her little sneezes even sounded as if she were proclaiming to the world “I CHEW!”
Needless to say, Daphne was very successful at chewing because she was completed focused. Nothing else – and I truly mean nothing else – competed for her attention. And I found her particularly inspirational.
See, my life gets full of stuff. I take on so many commitments that I probably should be committed. I say “yes” when my calendar says “no.” I keep going when my body says “stop.” After all, if I don’t do it, who will? And it has to get done, doesn’t it?
For the past year or so, my body – which, as I’ve already shared, battles two autoimmune conditions – has been shouting “STOP!” at the top of its wheezing lungs. And as I’ve begun to pare back my commitments, I’ve considered the futility of it all. Is it all chasing after the wind, as Solomon pondered in Ecclesiastes? Am I trying to do so much that I essentially end up accomplishing nothing of import? What will be my legacy?
Solomon’s father, David, certainly did his share of chasing after the wind, among other things, yet God called him “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Why? Because David’s heart, though it wandered, was ultimately inclined to one purpose: a hunger and thirst for God.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple,” David wrote in Psalm 27:4.
One thing. Not long lists by which we may impress others. Just one thing.
If we make seeking and glorifying the Lord the one thing that drives us, what would our schedules look like? What could we weed out of our lives? How much more effective could our lives be?
Make either a written or mental list of all the things that occupy your time and energy, and put them through the filter of that one thing, living for Christ. Evaluate and prioritize them accordingly.
Think diligence and flexibility. Developing personal disciplines and regular schedules can certainly help us weed out the unnecessary and make ourselves more available for kingdom purposes. But sometimes that one thing requires that we ditch the schedule, we push aside the things we thought we had to do, and we do the thing that seems illogical and impractical and uncomfortable. We make time for that person who needs our counsel. We make time for that conversation with our neighbor. We make time to pray on the spot with somebody, rather than relying on our spotty memories.
Weeding things out of our lives is hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes we even have to weed out ministries. That seems counterintuitive until you think of our lives like gardens. If you maintain a garden for more than one season, you must rotate the crops so the soil is not depleted. In the same way, we may rotate through ministries from season to season in our lives or we risk depletion. And God uses the experiences we’ve gained in those seasons to build us up for even greater things – new seasons, new ministries.
Let’s stick with the garden analogy for a minute longer. In a garden, plants must be spaced deliberately to allow adequate room for growth. Crowded gardens are less productive. Likewise, our crowded lives will be hindered in their productivity.
I think the enemy delights in keeping us busy so that our energy is diffused and unfocused. In fact, I think he even loves it when we’re swamped with ministry responsibilities because that can impair our ability to abide in Him or to reach out to people who need salvation or encouragement.
Daphne keeps her life simple. She remains content as long as she remains focused on her one thing. I wonder what she’ll do once her adult teeth come in. Will her life still have purpose?
As for me, I’m sowing my seed more deliberately and over a smaller patch of ground these days, and I’m weeding out whatever is unfruitful. I’m striving to keep focused on that one thing. Want to know my new motto? Weed it and reap.