Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31, NIV
Have you ever had the experience of having to drive a considerable distance to an appointment; but, the vehicle that you are driving shows that the gas gauge is closer to empty than you would like? You are in a hurry—late for your meeting—so you decide to see if you can make it. The red warning light comes on. Then the fuel gauge starts to rest solidly on the empty mark, and your stomach grows tighter mile by mile. Perhaps you make it—and perhaps you don’t. And as the light stays on and the indicator sits on empty, you become more tense. When do you refuel?
Richard Swenson, a medical doctor, believes that overload has become an epidemic. Supporting that contention, he says that one in three feels “rushed” all of the time. He also says that today we sleep two-and-a-half hours less than people did a generation ago, and larger quantities of sleep-inducing medications are being consumed than ever before. Dr. Swenson added that instead of modern communication (Facebook, cell phones, texting, email, etc.) making life easier for us, they have simply compounded the pressures that most of us face in the daily routine of life.
You would probably agree that you’re doing more now than you have ever done before, and more than you should be doing. But when you’re swimming the horses across the river, you can’t just say, ‘Whoa! I’ll take a week or two off!” Neither can you stretch your day further so the problem has to be addressed differently.
At the height of His ministry, Jesus faced times when He purposely backed away from the great crowds to find time to be in His Father’s presence. John 7:53 and the verse following in John 8:1 stand in contrast to each other. John records in chapter 7, verse 53, “Then each [the multitude of people who had pressed upon Jesus] went to his own home. In chapter 8, verse 1, John says, “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts….” Watching the sunrise over the Temple Mount was not the reason Jesus sought solitude. It was to find the power and strength necessary to do His Father’s bidding.
Likewise, keeping first things first demands separating yourself from the constant cry or solicitation for you to do more, and be in His presence first. Start your day by being in the Word and having time for prayer before you check your email or messages. Listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit as you begin your day.
My suggestion is that you then categorize demands on your time in three categories: “Must do!” “Should do!” and “Can do!” Start with the most urgent, that you feel is in accord with what God wants of you.
Dwight L. Moody, a man of God, once said that the successful person is not the one who can do the work of ten men, but the one who can get ten men to do the work! That’s part of what making disciples is all about. When it comes to the use of your time, no one can make those decisions except you.
For many, many years, I’ve started each day with prayer and then assessed the responsibilities that I have for that day. I would start with the most urgent one and then work down through the list. And, by the way, if there is a person I don’t really want to call, I call them first thing to get it off my plate and to fulfill my obligation or duty. Remember, you are the one who controls your schedule.
Resource reading: Mark 6:30-34