At 8:45 pm on a quiet Sunday night, I noticed my nine-year-old son’s shadow appear in the dark hallway while I folded laundry and watched television. He approached me, sniffling with his head hung low. His tears alerted me. Did something scare him while he was in bed for the night? Pulling him close, I whispered, “What’s wrong?” He burst into tears and confessed he had a school project due in a couple of days but hadn’t accomplished anything. To make matters worse, it was a sizable part of his grade. Puzzled, I pushed for more information. He relented and admitted that football, cello, and squeezing in time for video games kept him busy.
As we discussed his thoughts surrounding the project, I could relate to everything he said. In the past, when it came to my Bible study and spending time in God’s Word, I felt like I was behind on a school project. I needed to earn a good grade to view myself as a good student, Christian, godly woman, and mother. But instead of delving into God’s Word, I found myself too busy with other tasks. I got caught up tending to the needs of a household, maintaining friendships, accomplishing work tasks, and even enjoying leisurely activities.
I would wake up and go, then crash into bed after a long day without even peeking into my Bible. I used busyness as an excuse. But really, I failed to prioritize reading God’s Word and sought value and fulfillment in other activities. Deep down, I knew these other things wouldn’t nourish my soul or remind me that I’m valued in God's kingdom (Matt. 10:31).
Being Busy is an Easy Excuse and an Easy Distraction
It’s easy to get wrapped up in a busy schedule. As a working woman, I jump to say yes to work projects. As a mom, I often pad our family’s schedule with sports, after-school activities, and play dates. And as a wife, I plan out dates or busy myself with taking on more chores to help my spouse. Then there are the ordinary happenings: grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning my house, and the trappings of everyday life. I also seek time to spend with friends, attend events, or volunteer at church. While these tasks take time and deplete my energy, it’s easy to find my worth in the hustle, as our culture encourages.
In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, the younger son bought into the lie that life away from the Father was more appealing (Luke 15:13). We, too, can buy into the same lie. We wonder if there’s something out there that will replace and increase our value and self-worth simply by working hard toward it. Our schedules can be this distraction. If we add one more thing, it will appear that we’re stewarding our time well. We edge out reading Scripture since other things demand our attention. Inevitably, like the younger son found out, we’ll end up hungry and emptied of ourselves at the end of the day (Luke 15:14).
Seeking Our Value in Busy Work Instead of the Lord
My reckless pursuit of self-worth through a busy schedule distracts me from the inheritance gifted to me by a compassionate, gracious God (Col. 1:12). At first, getting a lot done each day appears to satisfy, much like how the younger son looked at the pigs’ pods (Luke 15:16). We think busyness will satiate our appetites for accomplishment. But really, it’s empty of any sustenance we need for our souls.
Instead of opening up God’s Word, I’ve opened up Instagram to destress. In the past, I’ve called once-a-week church attendance a worthy substitute for spending time studying the Bible. But these substitutes are devoid of the intimacy and wisdom gleaned from reading Scripture. God’s affection and care for me are active in the words of prophets, narratives, and poetry that proclaim his handiwork and his love for me (1 John 1:1–4). Yet, if we begin to view Bible reading like a school project, we’ll return to finding our worth by earning our way.
God Celebrates Our Time with Him
Much like my son, the younger son in the parable ended up in his Father’s arms begging for a place to earn his keep (Luke 15:21). But our gracious and compassionate God doesn’t see us this way. He celebrates the tiniest steps toward him. He throws a feast for those who have lost their way and returned again (Luke 15:22–24). God’s Word beckons us to rest in his presence instead of naming facts about him (Matt. 11:28). We don't need to treat God's Word as one more thing to keep us busy. All we need is to devote moments of our time to him. It can be as small as memorizing a few words of Scripture or listening to the Bible in our earbuds while a toddler hangs off of us, while taking a short work break, or while making dinner. God simply desires time with us.
Ultimately, I reminded my son that a slight misstep in planning his schedule wouldn’t affect my love for him. He took a deep breath in and relaxed his shoulders as he exhaled. The next day, he accomplished his project in time. He learned he was never too busy to focus on what he needed to do, and one mistake didn’t change how I viewed him. He reminded me that I needed the same courage to approach my study of the Word boldly. I’m never too busy to fix my attention to God’s gracious Word. I need this reminder daily. But I can take a deep breath and relax my tense shoulders by remembering my performance doesn’t change how the Lord views me. His inheritance for me is spelled out in his Word, which proclaims his unrelenting love for me (Rom. 8:35, 38–39).
Meet the Author
Neidy (pronounced nay-dee) is a Mexican-Guatemalan creative with a love of Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and cold brew coffee on tap. She lives on the Iowa side of the Omaha metro with her three incredible niños and firefighter-paramedic husband. Currently, her family is a part of a bilingual church plant with a heart for diversity. She’s also the content manager for Be the Bridge and Exhale. You can find her on her website or Instagram.