I remember it just like yesterday. I was living my dream with what I’d considered the highlight of my career. I’d been working with major media personalities, writing for major magazines and had received a full-time job offer to relocate for a major African-American magazine. I should have enjoyed all of this success right? Everyone was excited for me, proud of me, and supportive. And yet I was falling apart.
Everything was moving fast and I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t maintain. I felt like I was losing my mind due to an enormous amount of stress. I’m sure that I’d deceived myself to a degree, thinking that working hard to accomplish my goals and better myself was a good thing. Sure I prayed, read my Bible some and went to church, but the Lord revealed to me how none of that mattered. Why? He was not first in my life or my heart. I was not spending enough time with Him due to my hectic schedule and my goals were idols in my heart (1 Jn. 5:21, KJV).
Within the next couple of days, I fell to my knees in emotional, psychological, physical and most importantly, spiritual defeat. I had nowhere else to go and nothing or no one else to turn to; so I quickly ran to grab my Bible. It was divine intervention as I turned to Matt. 6:33, KJV – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In that instance I literally felt my spirit, soul and body surrender and barely whispered only one word, “Okay.”
That “okay” was monumental. It meant that I was done living life on my own terms regarding goals, educational advancement, work or whatever I considered good and productive. It was an acknowledgment to myself that I had been living my life without seeking Him diligently.
I was busy and driven with many endeavors. The deception was serious since it was based on working hard to create a successful life. Yet here, on this day, I was broken and empty.
In that moment, with my Bible and my heart crying out to God, the Holy Spirit moved miraculously and suddenly my spiritual man was alive! I was so hungry for Him that He could have descended from the heavens, stood right there before me and I would have believed what I saw, embraced it, held on tight to it.
I know what’s it like to have dreams and plans and get so caught up in them that you never once stop and ask the Lord what He wants! I prayed for Him to bless me with what I wanted all the time. In other words, I had Matt 6:33, KJV backwards. My pursuit of things superseded seeking the kingdom first.
The revelation that nothing in my life would work according to God’s will if I did not abide by Matt. 6:33 pierced my heart. I knew that I had to live my life by being in the center of His perfect will, consulting Him about all matters, fellowshipping with Him every single day and having Him ordering my steps (Ps 37:23, KJV).
You see, the issue wasn’t that I was too busy for God. It was that I’d put Him on the back burner and was choosing to allocate my time to other things. I had time to surf the internet as much as I wanted, catch my favorite TV show and eat whatever I wanted without any thoughts of gluttony. Basically, I had time to do what satiated my flesh.
Was I living for eternal life? To answer that, I would visualize myself standing before the Lord giving an account of my life. I was face to face with the one whose mercy is limitless, who died an atrocious death on the cross for me so that I would not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16, KJV). And I’d have to tell Him, “I didn’t have time for you Lord. I was busy.” Could I look into the eyes of the one who had saved me so that I could live an abundant life and say that?
God ignited a passion in me where I began to seek Him earnestly and my primary pursuit was simply Him. I began to seriously count the cost. If any opportunities or endeavors would interfere with my time with the Lord, my answer was no.
I was finally at a place where I was willing to walk out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12, KJV).
The more time I spent with Him, the clearer His voice became. He showed me that to live for Him and fellowship with Him was a lifestyle. I had to rearrange my life so that it was convenient for Him, not for myself.
I eliminated all extra projects and/or side jobs. After my day job, I came home each day and spent time in His presence for four years. The result? I developed a hunger only He could satisfy (Matt 4:4, KJV). As time passed, I longed for more time with Him and looked for other ways to create it. I turned my lunch breaks into Bible studies, got up an hour earlier to spend time with Him before I faced the day, read books about Him, listened to music about Him and just saturated myself with all things Christ.
An intimate relationship with Christ was the key to eliminating a busy lifestyle, reducing stress, and learning how to say no. Jesus was never busy running around frantically from one thing to the next, constantly overloading Himself so that He couldn’t be efficient, available and committed to His calling. He always made time for the Father and prayed without ceasing by leaning on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance.
Jesus calls us to emulate the life that he led here on earth, not live busy, hectic lives. As His children and co-heirs, we are equipped to do this since we are one with Him (Jn. 17:21, KJV) and He has given us the same Holy Spirit that He depended on. What can you give up today to create more time in your life for God? Take a good look at your life and eliminate those things that are not yielding fruit.
Keep a journal of where and how you spend your time for one week and you’ll be quite amazed. Ask for guidance and the Holy Spirit will show you what to give up. It’s not easy. I have almost fainted at some of the things He instructed me to give up over the years and just like a child, His child, I have thrown tantrums. While the tantrums wore me out, He wasn’t impressed and didn’t change His mind. Instead, He changed my heart and when I gave it up, it was worth the sacrifice and suffering to see His Glory (Rom. 8:17, KJV)!
Finally, understand and know that this is always a work-in-progress. It is also an impossibility aside from seeking His kingdom first (Jn. 15:5, KJV). You can’t live life without talking to Him throughout the day and meditating on His word. The best part is that He will change your heart as a result of simply spending time with Him. You will fall so in love with Him that when you stumble, there will be no guilt or condemnation (Rom. 8:1, KJV). You will be able to get right back up and continue running this race.
God will meet you right where you are. Pray, “Lord, change my heart so that I desire to seek you first.” He will answer that prayer. Ultimately you will find yourself rearranging your life and fiercely guarding that precious time to spend with Him. And with just that first taste of His Glory, you will long for more and never be too busy for Him again.
Latest posts by Nekea Valentine (see all)
- The Secret to Avoiding Endless Guilt Over Your Sin and Winning the Battle Against Your Flesh - September 7, 2016
- How I Learned to Seek God & Conquer Busyness - August 17, 2016