Last week I took a deep breath at the end of a busy day. The Hubs had headed out to the gallery to get some more work done. The Tiger was already in bed, and I was hoping he would fall asleep quickly, and then the Bear would follow suit. {They are kind of getting up to mischief when we put them down at the same time at night so we’re figuring out how to work that out best, and sometimes it involves letting the Bear stay up until the baby’s asleep.}

We’d been scrambling all day, and probably the day before. And the day before. Thanking heaven for ‘summer camp’ keeping the Bear busy at the church where he goes to preschool during the year, thanking the Lord for my Mom and Dad, helping with the boys so that the Hubs and I could be at the gallery working lots and often. There was a general sense of urgency about life — this deadline looming ahead of us. So many tasks that needed completing before that deadline.

But I’d decided that evening, at bedtime when Work, Round 2 often starts, that it was time to play the board game the Bear was asking me to play. He looked so sweet, sitting on the floor in Dinosaur pajamas, over-the-moon-excited that we were going to play a board game, that I stopped to snap a picture with my phone, eager to savour the moment again, even after he’d gone to bed.

I took the picture with Instagram, and wanting to share it, I paused for a moment to give it a caption. These words immediately came to mind: Probably the most important thing I’ve done today. And remembering this old post of mine, I added #SpellingloveT-I-M-E.

When I enter into the space where ‘the urgent’ becomes the tyrant dictating my life, a couple of friends often come to join me on the journey. I sometimes start getting ulcers in my mouth, or strange aches and pains in different places. I sometimes get headaches, and I struggle to put one foot in front of the other to get everyday things done. It’s like my body is saying, “Hey Idiot! Stop stressing and running around! I’m not supposed to run on all six cylinders for this amount of time. You’re gonna burn me out!”  My time with the Lord gets pushed aside because of all the other things that need to get done, and THAT is when things really start heading south.

Ya’d think I’d learn my lesson by now, wouldn’t ya? 

After the Bear and I had played our game (he beat me twice without me even trying to let him win!) and read a story and he’d settled off to sleep I thought more about those words I’d given that photo — and the truth in them. More than I want the Hubs to have a successful photography business, more than I want to create breathing space in our budget so that we can perhaps look for our own home, more than I want to live with a house that is even reasonably tidy, I want to raise these boys we’ve been given to steward well. I want them to be well-adjusted. I want them to serve God with passion. I want them to know we love them.

I don’t want them to grow up saying they felt disconnected from their parents. And I want to know about their lives, and not because they are posting about themselves on Facebook and I’m reading it.

I was reminded of some simple truths about living under the Tyranny of the Urgent — lessons that I often need to be reminded of — as I thought through where we were and how things were going.

First, if you live your life trying to please people OR please your own unrealistic expectations, you are inevitably going to fall short and be frustrated with yourself.  If you focus on trying to please God every day, you’ll find that pacing yourself, making wise choices, and even getting GOOD rest pleases Him. No one else is going to guard your time and rest. People will take as much as you’ll give them, and encourage you to keep giving out more.

There will always be something that feels urgent, but doesn’t have to be treated that way.

If you can rest in the knowledge that the only one you need to please is your heavenly Father, and focus on following His leading, you will do well. With His leading I can love my husband and my children well. Listening to His whispers I can recognize when urgency is dictating my schedule while important is slipping through the cracks. If that’s the case I’m probably overcommitted or not managing my time well. I need to start asking questions. What needs to get axed? How should I re-prioritize?

Second, the Lord tells us to rest for a reason. Each day has sufficient trouble of its own. We aren’t supposed to worry about tomorrow. We can rest in the knowledge that God is in control. When we begin stressing that we have to get everything sorted out, voila, we have sore throats, headaches, sickness…and even worse health conditions, many that would have been completely prevented had we been willing to change our pace and make rest and concern for our health a priority. {Remember, don’t kill your horse!}

There will always be something urgent on the agenda. If you keep running after the urgent, you’ll neglect the important, and suffer the consequences.

Third, remember the story of Lazarus. (See John 11:1-44) Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, but He stayed where He was for two more days before heading over to Judea. Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary. This family was very dear to Him. When He (finally) arrived on the scene, Lazarus was already dead, and people were mourning him. The question obviously came from both women — “Ugh, Jesus, where ya been? Cuz if you showed up, om…seeing as how you have healing powers and all…well…it seems pretty apparent if you hadn’t taken your time about getting here, our brother wouldn’t be in a tomb right now.”

It isn’t readily apparent why Jesus decided to take His time about getting there, but He does say in response to the news of Lazarus’ illness, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” So for God’s glory, and in God’s timing (we can be sure it was God’s timing since Jesus never stepped out of God’s will) Jesus traveled to Judea without a big rush, and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days.

You may or may not know the rest of the story: after conversations with Martha and Mary, and seeing the weeping, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In doing so, He demonstrated His power, not just over sickness, but also over death, and many Jews began to believe in Him because of this amazing miracle. (So much so that the Pharisees began plotting to kill Him.)

Jesus could have rushed over to Martha and Mary’s place and healed Lazarus before He passed away. The urgency of the situation could have forced Him to drop everything and ‘put foot’ as HH puts it. But He waited for God’s timing, and in doing so, God was glorified, and His will was done. Many believed, and the stage was set for even greater works yet to come.

There will always be something urgent you need to attend to. But rushing after the urgent might very well cause us to run right ahead of the will of God.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. {Psalm 32:9} Stay in step with God’s leading instead!

The thing is, if you let it, the urgent will always distract you from the important. And sometimes, a series of short-term decisions will change your course for you, and you won’t be headed toward your long-term goals. Are you taking on too many projects for someone else without allowing time for you to attend to your own work? Is your schedule somewhat determined by whatever it is that seems to need to happen the fastest?

When you look back on the season you’re in the middle of right now, do you think you’ll celebrate the choices you’re making with your time … or regret them?

Truly, along with our daily bread, we can trust God for the daily guidance to know what to put our hands to — and when.