Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Tyranny of the Urgent

The urgent . . .
That's where I am right now.

On Tuesday, I will get observed for the second and final time. My teacher will come to my class and watch me interact with the children. She's a good teacher, a very nice lady, and I love the children. But I have so many assignments to complete between now and then!

Yesterday I spent most of the day on these assignments, forgetting to finish the laundry. Granted, I did still have my Quiet Time with the Lord - although my heart wasn't really in it. I did stop to fix lunch since Mom was away, managing the gift shop at the battlefield. At the end of the day, I did set my schoolwork aside to play several hands of Rook with Caleb, Jedidiah, and Caleb's college friend Dave who spent the weekend with us. But the first long part of the day was a frenetic effort to check off as many assignments as possible.

And now as my mind looks forward past this sweet gift of Sabbath rest celebrating Jesus' resurrection and almost wants to waste that gift in worry over the next 36 hours - what if I can't get everything done? - I take a deep breath and tell my mind to rest in God, thinking of the wise words of Charles Hummel in his pamphlet, "The Tyranny of the Urgent." I just read it a few minutes ago, for the first time ever, and, wow - it is just what I needed! Thank You, Father! =)

To give a little idea of what Mr. Hummel has to say, think of all the unfinished projects you have around your house and on your to-do list. Think of the all the projects you would love to do and think you need to do, but have never even started. Think of all the things you know other people want you to do, but you aren't doing them and don't know when you'll be able to. Overwhelmed?

Now consider this: toward the end of Jesus' life, He said "I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do" (John 17:4). How could that be possible? How can anyone truly finish their work? Jesus did. Yet there was so much He didn't do. He didn't heal every sick person in Israel. He didn't evangelize every lost Jew. There were urgent needs He left unmet, but He did everything that was important. How did He know the difference? Through prayer (Mark 1:35).

To quote directly,

P.T. Forsyth once said, "The worst sin is prayerlessness." We usually think of murder, adultery, or theft as among the worst. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency---independence from God. When we fail to wait prayerfully for God’s guidance and strength we are saying, with our actions, if not our lips, that we do not need Him. How much of our service is characterized by "going it alone?"

The opposite of such independence is prayer in which we acknowledge our need for God’s instruction and supply. . . . Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He want us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come form the God who knows our limitation. “The Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances.

So tomorrow morning, I'll be getting up a few minutes early and asking God for guidance. I know I'm going to need it! And then, even if I'm unable to complete everything urgent, by God's grace I can rest in His arms knowing everything important was finished.

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