The Futility of Busyness {and the richness of waiting}

a reflection of three years living and loving overseas

When I close my eyes and {try to} imagine Christ, for some reason I never picture Him up and running around, busy. I picture a peaceful calm. Yet at the same time I know He is constantly at work among us, through us, in us.

When I open my eyes, however, and see my life, so often all I see is busyness and rush. A hectic race of back and forth.
Nothing like my Father. 

If there is one thing God has taught me these last few years, it’s that He is not in a hurry.
(And let’s be honest, that is tough news to an American!)

We have plans and dreams and schemes and hopes all laced with goals and timelines and to-do lists to make those happen.
But God? He has all the time in eternity and He’s not afraid to use it.
We pace the floor, glancing at the imaginary clock wondering when all of these things will come to pass. And all it does is create in us a dissatisfaction with where we are, who we are, what we have.
All the while, God moves and breathes life, methodically and timely.
We huff and puff, missing the whole point of it all—Him.
But that’s too simple, to walk towards Him in humble submission.
We want results. Numbers.
I don’t suppose I’ve attended a single “church service” in my life that didn’t put a varying degree of emphasis on a number. This many in attendance, this many confessions, this many baptisms, this many new churches, this many Bibles given, this many “souls saved”, this much money donated.
Numbers. Goals achieved. 
And so we say that, yes, these numbers represent souls and lives changed. But ever so slowly {and mostly with no recognition at all} we fail to realize that, while these do represent souls, those souls have quickly faded from our focus. Because we are off to the next number goal.
Last year we had 100. This year we want to see 200.
Last year they gave $1,000. This year we want $10,000.
Numbers. Objectives. 
But why do we care about \”how many\” and \”how much\”? Because time is short… right? Some would say because Jesus is coming soon. Some would put up the counting clock that shows how many souls are dying and going to hell this VERY moment and what are we DOING if we aren’t counting “souls for the Kingdom”?
We’re living. That’s what we are doing. We are loving our neighbor. We are confessing our sins to one another. We are praying for healing. We are giving and serving. We are poured out and broken.
And yes we are even longing for that Day. But we are living this day in all of its holiness, too.
And when we recognize that God is sovereign and His plans cannot be thwarted, suddenly we don’t feel so glorified in our busyness. Because it’s that same lie that the busier we are, the more productive we are that leads us to neglect our children and our marriage and our neighbor in pursuit of the goal. It leads us to shout judgment and rules rather than hope and love.
Because when we are rushed, there is no time for love. Because love takes time.
Love is patient. Love is willing to endure rejection, hatred, failure, backlash. Because love has all the time in the world. Love never fails.
Rush says we need to see repentance now. It’s now or never.
Love says God is in control of the outcome.
Rush says the bigger the crowd, the better.
Love says this one sufficient.
Rush says goals must be met.
Love says goals are good but not ultimate.
Rush says there is no time to sit still, there is work to be done.
Love says we’ll stay as long as we need to.
So often we confuse waiting and stillness with laziness. But we neglect to realize that it’s often busyness that creates laziness. For what else do we want to do after a busy day but sit on a couch and let our “brains rest” in front of the television? What is a better excuse for a little more time on social media that a long day of working hard? We deserve it, right?
But when we create a habit of waiting and watching, suddenly our time is consumed with things that matter. More time with our Savior. More time to pray for healing. More time to listen. More time to sit. More time to hear. More time to see.
More time to truly feel the groaning of the world around us in need of a Savior. Our Savior.

More time to taste and see that He is good.

No longer do we need to shout from the rooftops our expansive knowledge of spiritual things. Our lives speak loudly enough.
No longer do we need to organize and plan bigger and better activities to win people over. Our lives are speaking Truth from which the Holy Spirit will win people over.
When we moved to the Jungle three years ago, we had plenty of plans and goals.
Not one of them came to pass as we had thought. Not a single one.
But when we found ourselves at the end of so many dreams, we found God was moving all around us the whole time. Turns out He didn’t need us after all.
And then we slowed down and we could hear it for once.
And it was scary at first because there wasn’t a plan laid out in that one word. He didn’t say where or how or when or even what the outcome would be. He just said, “Come.”
So with feeble hands and weak knees, we stepped out of what we thought was the way things had to be done and we decided to just trust His timing. To take it one step, one day, on moment at a time. We would just live life with these people and trust that He would do the rest.
And oh what we have seen Him do!
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work. Again, waiting doesn’t mean sitting idly by. We’ve worked harder and cried longer and wanted to give up countless times these last three years. But there in the quiet we still hear His voice whispering, “Come.”
His Spirit strengthens us again and we walk with the broken and speak into their lives and show them a better way with all of our insufficiencies and weaknesses in full light and at the end of the day all that can be said is, “Wow. Look at what a God we serve. LOOK at what He is doing!”
So three years into this thing, I’m {not so} sorry to report that I don’t have any numbers for you… I haven’t been counting. But if you want to sit for a while I can tell you some truly incredible things that God is doing in and around us.
None of it was our plan. None of it fit into our schedules and timelines.
But all of it—every last detail—fit perfectly into His.

7 thoughts on “The Futility of Busyness {and the richness of waiting}

  1. I absolutely love this post. What a wonderful word to harried humanity – and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart and your journey – I'm so glad I found you guys on the internet (an ironic accident, actually – I was looking to see if my new blog which has almost the exact same name as yours was showing up on searches yet) and will be praying for you! Looking forward to see what God does next!Blessings,Christine


  2. Thank you, Ashley!! I have definitely subscribed to your blog as well so I can keep up with you guys. I think we must be kindred spirits – I had just written a post on \”Peace – Need a Refill?\” when I found your excellent piece on waiting (peacefully). Between that and the blog names, I think we're tracking! 🙂 You can give me a shout over at – it's still a work in progress, but I'm learning! Blessings, Christine


  3. Hi, Ashley, I enjoyed your post. We all need to 'sit still' more, so we can hear what the Spirit speak to us. Hope we can meet someday…our son Paul lives there in Leticia and we hope to come down again to see him! May the Lord bless you and your family as you step out in faith, living a valuable testimony to Jesus in your everyday lives. In Christ, Marianne Froese


  4. I always come to this blog because I miss your *voice* and though it usually chastises me, it always encourages me. Meeting you guys was one of those things. I never see you and I hardly can be in contact with you but, we will always be linked because Christ made it so. Love to all of you. Heather


  5. Love this post! Stumbled across your article on adoption….which made me cry as I felt it was the words in my journal. We have fostered 7 years and adopted one son. Recently diagnosed with high functioning autism. The roller coaster has been hard but the Lord continues to be present …Immanuel. I just read this article and again…it's exactly what God has been teaching me the last 8 months! My journal sound similar(I don't blog). But it is encouraging that God teaches us all…wherever we live…whatever season we are in….Be Still and Know He is God! I'll be praying for your journey there! -amber


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