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“Houston, We’ve Had a (Busyness) Problem”


“So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes.” Ephesians 5:15-16 TPT


April 14, 1970. The crew of Apollo 13 beamed at the cameras as they led a tour from 200,000 miles above the earth while they envisioned it reaching every living room across the nation. Only, no one was watching. With several moon landings behind us, space exploration was deemed too tame to be televised. But that was quickly about to change. Six and a half minutes after the conclusion of their broadcast, a loud bang onboard led to one of the most heroic rescue missions in modern history, initiated by the now famous words from Apollo to Mission Control:


“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”


If you lived through it (or if you watched Tom Hank’s’ thrilling re-telling on the big screen), you know what comes next. NASA leaned into a tenacious surge of undignified creativity to do whatever it took to get the men home. They did this because they understood the gravity of the situation, and because they knew there was no other choice. And surely enough, an assortment of random items onboard (including ripped off manual covers and Duct Tape) saved the day. But the story could have easily gone another way had Mission Control and the crew not agreed on one critical point:


“We’ve had a problem.”


When I look at the pace most of us are ordering our lives, I feel a similar alarm rising in me. I see us run ourselves ragged, overcommitted and under-satisfied. Longing for purpose and fearing we’re coming up short, we just keep running at a pace our souls weren’t made to sustain.


Just then, I hear it: We’ve had a problem.”


It isn’t novel or new.


We can’t blame technology or the ‘season.’


“We’ve HAD a problem.” For some time now.


There IS hope. Jesus offers a life radiating with purpose, yet imaged best as a branch resting in a vine. We can live this life, but only if we’d first admit:


“We’ve had a problem.”


In a very real sense, we know the high cost of our over-busyness. We’ve heard the statistics and felt the strain on our energy, our relationships, and the underlying sense of physical and emotional exhaustion of constantly running from one thing to the next without feeling like we ever truly arrive anywhere. If you’re like me, you’ve tried a number of time-management hacks, with varying degrees of success.


Because of this, I didn’t really want to share another attempt to course-correct our frantic “always on, always going, never arriving” pace. Except I have to. I’m becoming increasingly more convinced that this “busyness problem” is to our souls and relationships what the loud bang was to the Apollo crew: a matter of life and death.


The space separating God’s dreams becoming reality in our lives and them ricocheting off course into an empty abyss feels, at times, just as narrow as the trajectory of Apollo’s re-entry. But God is faithful. And this moment is an invitation to take a courageous inventory at the course we’re charting and, if necessary, to admit we need help. But it starts with identifying the problem.


Why are we perpetually busy? I see two major causes.


1. We are running to ACHIEVE: Desperate to fill some perceived lack.


For this person, (hint: all too often, this is me) fervor for excellence is often tethered to a fear of insignificance. You have big dreams and great ambitions about how you can join God in making the world a better place, or to solve some great crisis or need…and that’s amazing. But it can be all too easy to confuse the wonder of partnering with God for the weight of performing for God to show Him, others, and mostly ourselves that we are worthy of respect. We take ourselves far too seriously. When we elevate everything to a place of urgency that needs us as the hero, compassion fatigue and burnout are peeking over the horizon.


Is this you? If so, I encourage you to sit honestly before God asking the following:


  • What do I think I need to achieve in order for me to feel I am successful?


  • Whose approval am I striving to attain to make me feel I am worthy or needed?


2. We are running to ESCAPE: Desperate to forget some painful loss.


One cause of busyness is rooted in what we are striving to attain. The other is tangled up in the substances we seek to uproot all we’re trying to forget. Presently, the average American spends 8 hours and 44 minutes every day on their smartphone. The biggest time-spenders? Scrolling Social Media, Streaming Entertainment, and Playing Games.


Let that sink in. Most of us are spending the equivalent of a full-time job in activities intended to numb our thoughts, distract our emotions, and isolate us from meaningful interpersonal interaction. Many of us don’t want to be alone with our thoughts, so we exhaust our souls and our resources to keep it at bay.


Is this you? If so, don’t receive heaviness or fear. Just be honest as you bring these questions to God:


  • What do I think needs to be fixed in order for me to feel fulfilled?


  • What steals my peace that I keep hoping will change?


 

“Whenever our hearts make us feel guilty and remind us of our failures, we know that God is much greater and more merciful than our conscience, and he knows everything there is to know about us.” 1 John 3:20 TPT

 

God knows you completely and adores you unconditionally. At your very worst moment He came so you could stop running and spend your life resting in His arms. There is no condemnation…but if you’re anything like me, there might be a problem in the way you’re ordering your life.


What could happen if we’d stop — truly stop — and let God speak to us about what’s happening inside? What if your life was marked by rest and health and delight? It can be. Jesus paid for it. We’ve simply got to admit we’ve got a problem and we will see heaven’s armies rush in with a tenacious surge of undignified creativity.


My family at Overflow Church would love to bless you with an amazing free resource that will help you immensely in practically aligning and ordering your schedule to reflect God’s calling for your life. It is a super practical tool that will start to make an immediate difference in your schedule if you’ll let it. You can get that here.


In the meantime, I am praying for you, friend. May we chart the course ahead well.

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