The last few days I've been thinking a lot about things that I might be allowing to come between me and God. Things that I might be holding as more important in my life than God. Things I spend more time and energy on than I spend time and energy with the Creator I profess to love above all things.
One of those things is time. I spend a huge amount of time checking the time, checking my calendar, hurrying to the next thing on my To Do list, creating more and more To Do lists. I count how many hours until I have to do this, how long until that happens, how much time it will take to do this, or how much time I might be able to shave off that.
But I keep it up, rushing to try to catch up and break even. My hopes for getting ahead died months ago. And yet I feel more harried than ever.
Until it occurred to me that the very essence of time itself has become more important to me than the belief that God will help me make wise time choices, and that everything that doesn't get done will not keep the world from turning. I know, because the sun has been rising on my unfinished To Do lists for years.
The other thing that I realized has been increasingly coming between me and my Heavenly Father is everything I think and feel about my physical self. My weight, what I eat, how much I exercise – these have all been causing me stress for years. A couple years ago I decided that how I treat my body is part of my stewardship. Perhaps I'm more stressed about it all now than ever. I've been keeping score and failing to do what I say I want to do.
(I hear the echoes of the Apostle Paul here – I do what I say I don't want to do, and I don't do what I say I do want to do. Sigh.)
But the harder I try, it seems the worse things get. Despite the fact that I pray to do better every day, I've lost what little peace about my body that I had a year ago.
When I had this little ah-ha moment earlier this week, that perhaps I'd allowed some things to have more of my energy than what I gave to God, my focus on my physical health was the other item that immediately came to mind.
The last few days, I've tried to change what my mind focuses on. I stopped wearing my watch and checking the clocks constantly. Every time I wanted to check the time, I just averted my eyes and asked God to help me focus on Him instead of how much time I had left.
When I thought about eating or drinking, whether for a meal or a snack, I tried to only eat if I was genuinely hungry, and not plan out what I'd have for the next meal or the next snack. I tried to put food out of my mind entirely until my stomach growled again. I haven't gotten any extra exercise in during the last few days, but I decided to take a break from worrying about it. Again, every time I thought about any of these things, I tried to refocus my thoughts on God.
I quickly noticed that when I tried to do that, the verse from Matthew would come to mind – seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. It was comforting to hear the Holy Spirit encouraging me!
I don't know what will happen in the long term, but I am pleasantly surprised to tell you that in the short term I've already felt less stress about everything I “have” to do. Things are getting done. Other things are not getting done. The sun still shines.
And God's mercy continues to show up again every morning, just like He promised.