Looking at my to-do list, I hate to say this, but our agenda reveals what, or who, we love most and where we place our trust. This really hit me this morning as I read through a particular passage of Scripture. It came from Mark 9:30-31. It states:
“Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know He was there, for He wanted to spend more time with His disciples and teach them. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies. He will be killed, but three days later He will rise from the dead’” (NLT).
Prior to this moment, Jesus and His disciples had been engaged in hugely significant ministry. Christ had been teaching, healing, and liberating thousands of deeply hurting people. He was changing lives with a single touch and powerful words of truth. From a human perspective, that was precisely where He and His disciples needed to stay. Who else could the people turn to? It wasn’t like there were other miracle workers wandering about.
At least, not yet. But Christ knew something His disciples and the crowds didn’t—He was about to share His power and His mission with twelve hand-selected men. Therefore, His and their temporary absence served a beautiful eternal purpose: multiplication. That’s always God’s heart. He takes what little we offer, be that time, resources, or skills, and makes it more than enough.
I know this. I truly believe God will accomplish through me every task He assigns to me, despite my weaknesses, mistakes, and insufficiencies. I’ve also learned, whatever I pursue apart from Him, more often than not, leads to little more than exhaustion and feelings of defeat. In other words, I don’t need to cram my schedule or strive to meet a certain level of success or productivity. Doing so could, in fact, hinder my progress and my call. I achieve far more when I learn to hit pause, take time to nourish my soul, and to better equip my teammates and myself.
My struggles to do so indicate a few things: That I’ve come to rely, and therefore place more trust in, myself, rather than God; and that perhaps I’ve given my heart to someone or something else.
As if I could possibly know or do more than Almighty Creator God or could find soul-deep fulfillment in anything apart from Him. I recognize the foolishness of both scenarios. I also realize my sovereign God can and will do so much more through my surrender than I’ll ever accomplish through my efforts alone. In the process, He’ll fill me with indescribable, inextinguishable joy and peace and provide increased intimacy with Him. My goal, then, is to align my day and priorities to reflect those truths.
In Mark 9, Christ provides a perfect example for how one can live with Spirit-led effectiveness.
First, He knew and remained focused upon His ultimate goal. He didn’t come to alleviate our pain and make things easier in the present, although He did, and still does, do so for countless people. He came to earth to reveal the path to eternal life and shatter every chain that holds us in bondage to sin and death.
We have a similar mission—to point others, with our words and our actions, to God’s free gift of salvation, pushing back our world’s darkness with light. But He’s given each of us distinct roles to play in His big-picture mission. People who we are uniquely wired to reach, who will relate to our story, voice, and presentation.
We can’t do all that God asks and fulfill the hope-filled plans He crafted specifically for us if we’re unclear regarding His will. If we’re unsure of what ideas to run with and which ones to drop, we might end up sprinting for weeks in the wrong direction. Similarly, we can’t simultaneously chase after everything we think, according to our wisdom, might bring us joy or success, as our culture defines it, and live a life pleasing to God. The moment we try, we become double-minded and therefore unstable in all our ways (James 1:6-8).
This leads to Christ’s second example for leaving an eternal impact: prayer. Scripture tells us that Jesus often arose early in the morning, before people were awake and could make demands on His time, to communicate with His Father. He was also known to slip away, as needed, to refresh His soul through that intimate connection.
God invites us to do the same. To carve out space each day to rest in His presence. It’s in that sacred place that we gain clarity regarding our mission and the strength to carry it out. As we offer our heart, wholly to Him, He purges the idolatry, our lesser loves, lingering in the deepest crevices of our soul and re-ignites our desire for Him.
Third, Jesus maintained a long-term perspective. He saw, and cared deeply for, all the needs He encountered each day. But He also understood how quickly and vastly the Gospel would spread, once He trained, empowered, and unleashed His disciples. Therefore, He was willing to hit pause, at the height of His ministry, with all the seemingly urgent demands, to invest in twelve ordinary men with high potential.
Similarly, we should always be searching for and investing in someone and allowing others to invest in us. For me, this means slowing down ministry endeavors, limiting our production calendar, and potentially even allowing certain portions of our organization to halt completely, in order to build relationships with and better equip my team.
Sometimes, like now, when we’re planning for our first ever fundraising gala, this can feel frightening. However, my fear only indicates my lack of trust, my propensity for self-reliance, and idols, such as people-pleasing or self-elevation, that I must renounce. This ultimately involves dying to myself so that Christ might live through me.
The more we understand and embrace our God-given roles and the more time we spend in prayer and in investing in others, the greater our effectiveness, eternal impact, intimacy with our Savior, and our joy and fulfillment.
We live in a hectic, fast-paced, demanding culture, but that doesn’t mean we must accept its invitation to frantically follow. In fact, we mustn’t. Instead, may God give us the wisdom, clarity, desire and strength to do all that He asks and only what He asks of us. May we follow the example set by Christ, our world’s most competent leader, to make room, during our busiest seasons, to fill our souls and pour into the souls of others. And as we do, may God use every insecure and anxiety-filled moment to reveal the cracks in our faith and all the idols we’ve allowed to occupy His rightful place in our hearts.
Let’s talk about this! Do you find it challenging to relinquish your daily schedule to God? If so, why do you think this might be? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
And speaking of surrender and trusting Christ more fully, make sure to check out the latest Faith Over episode:
God’s Promise to Place The Lonely in Families – Ep. 104 – Faith Over Fear
And speaking of agendas and calendars, make sure to mark yours for Wholly Loved’s upcoming Gala and silent auction! If you’re not local and can’t make it, no worries! We’ll have items you can bit for online.