More from Ann Stewart

by Upper Room Editorial on Tuesday, January 03, 2017

It seems to me that whenever someone is asked how they are these days the word "busy" appears somewhere in the answer. Being busy seems like something to be valued, and if you’re not busy then you might wonder what is lacking in your life. If I’m not "busy" I can find myself feeling guilty. I wonder if our hectic society has made an idol of busyness.

Jesus was always about his Father’s business, and I sometimes wonder if I’m following that example or whether the hours and moments of my days are so filled with activity that I don’t find time for the really important things that God created me to do. Are we too busy with very good and worthwhile things to spend quality time with God in prayer? Are we too busy to stop and really listen to a friend or to play with a child? Too busy to enjoy the beauty around us, to sit and rest, to complete tasks without rush, to sleep well at night without a mind that finds it hard to rest? Do we find the interruptions that are part of life a bother or an opportunity to meet a need? Are we realistic in our expectations of what we can achieve in one day? Do we find ourselves rushing from one activity to another and finding life hectic so that at the end of the day we are exhausted? There are times and seasons when we need to be busier than others; however, these are questions I’ve needed to ask myself this year as I’ve re-evaluated my priorities in the season of life I’m in.

I think our enemy is very happy when we are too busy and we believe the lie that we need to be doing something to be of value. He loves to see us leading frantic lives with no space for God. He loves to hear us say "yes" to every good task we are asked to do because then we can become overloaded with good deeds and have no time left for relationships. We are created for relationships – relationships with our loving God and with other people.

I’ve needed to make some adjustments to how I spend my time and become better at saying "no." Getting better at "being" is a challenge for me because I’m a practical person and love to be involved in everything. However, I am getting better.

The years of Jesus’ earthly ministry that we read about in the Bible were very full and productive. However, he found time to consult with his Father, to be interrupted by needs, to sit with children, to laugh and visit with friends. I can’t imagine Jesus rushing and telling his disciples to get a move on and not waste time! He was tired; he was human. But Jesus was in tune with God and filled with peace and a calmness of the Holy Spirit. My desire is to be more like Jesus and continue to use the trees in front of my house (pictured above) to remind me of these truths. I’d love to hear how you manage to live a balanced life and if you have anything like my trees as a reminder of what is really important in life.

- Ann Stewart

22 Comments

Comment by Tom of Canal Winchester, OH

Ann, your devotional is timely for me to reflect on my present pressure of needing to get my duties taken care of (none are so-o important that they can't wait), but I am fighting the effects of a cold and feeling the need of rest to recover completely. So, in time of even an unwelcome interruption as a common cold can be a reminder that we can indeed use the downtime for contemplation, prayer, and reuniting with the God who never leaves us.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 03:56AM CST
Comment by JK

Ann thank you for this message and reminder to take time "to smell the roses". Tom I hope you feel better soon and enjoy your rest and reflection. You are both so right that the busyness of our lives steal our joy by exhausting us! Blessings to you both.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 05:01AM CST
Comment by Judy of Yalaha, FL

This Is me. And what am I doing it for? Man's praise. Thank you for "more from the author." I needed this!

Posted January 03, 2017 at 05:14AM CST
Comment by Charlie of Powhatan, VA

Oh how I have needed to hear this one. I often complain of "being to busy". But when I reflect on what I've been "busy" doing, well.... Thank you, Ann, for this gentle reminder. I must take more time by my "tree".

Posted January 03, 2017 at 05:23AM CST
Comment by Paulette of Miami, OK

Thank you, Ann. I don't know that my life is well-balanced, but I do take more time to notice God's beautiful creation, whether it be the trees around my home, the birds in warmer weather, the laughter of my grandchildren, the list could go on and on with God's abundant blessings.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 06:22AM CST
Comment by Don

Ann; As I read your devotional in the Upper Room this morning I was reminded of a song recorded by Johnny Cash and often heard in the churches I attended as a
 teen-ager; "I Shall Not be Moved." Here are the words in the chorus;

I shall not be, I shall not be moved
I shall not be, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
I shall not be moved.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 06:28AM CST
Comment by Elizabeth of Westfield, MA

Ann: I loved your devotional and thoughts today! What a great meditation to start the new year. You are right, busyness has become an idol in our world today. I confess, I do not take enough time to sit and meditate on the Word of God, and to listen to His voice. Thank you for this gentle reminder.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 06:29AM CST
Comment by Edd of Ocala, FL

The first thing that came to mind when I say that tree was WOW! It would be nice to spend some time under that tree. God is love 4 all!!!

Posted January 03, 2017 at 06:38AM CST
Comment by Karen of Jackson, MS

Ann thank you for the devotional. We needed this to start the year off right. I too use to be so busy spinning my wheels but yet not feeling fulfilled. I saw the movie WAR ROOM it changed my life. Every morning no matter where I am I start my day off with God. I feel desolate without my morning ritual with God. I decided, just like we make time everyday to brush our teeth, we can take a little time for God. Yes I had to adjust my sleep schedule. I wake up early, I have to get my God time in. Once it's developed there's no turning back.
Be Blessed! 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Posted January 03, 2017 at 06:46AM CST
Comment by Don of West Grove, PA

Thanks for your devotional. I've selected a not so pretty tree near a stream in my own back yard to help me be reminded of God in whom I trust. Once again thanks.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 07:14AM CST
Comment by Leslie of Fort Collins, CO

Thank you Ann for your beautiful and valuable reminder to make time for God our first priority. I learned a few years ago what BUSY can stand for - 'being under satan's yoke.' When I feel that way, I draw closer to God and rest in His presence. Blessed New Year.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 07:36AM CST
Comment by Richard

Ann, thank you for not being to0 "busy", taking time to reflect and prepare today's devotional! Richard, Marietta, GA

Posted January 03, 2017 at 07:45AM CST
Comment by Dorann of Sugar Land, TX

Beautiful words of wisdom. Thank you for your insight and practical advice.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 07:54AM CST
Comment by Victoria of San Antonio , TX

Ann-What a perfect reflection at the start of a new year. I love being busy and having my calendar filled with commitments, but maybe this year I will leave more open spaces to spend time with God alone.
I can't believe the view from your home! It is so beautiful!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
Blessings to you this year!

Posted January 03, 2017 at 08:18AM CST
Comment by todd of austin, TX

Ann, thank you. I noticed a few years ago that friends would say, "I know you must be busy..." and it startled me. I couldn't believe I put forth an image of not having enough time for the people close to me. I know the trees in my life are our wonderful children. And I want for them a life of relationships and joy. Your words will serve as a helping source to the water I need and will draw from to help my trees have a wonderful life. Thank you.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 08:24AM CST
Comment by Karen of Princeton, NC

Good devotion. I have an angel statue by the creek in my back yard that reminds me to stay grounded in God and His word. When my son was in a serious accident and in the hospital for a month my neighbor made sure that the statue stood upright. When it was occasionally blown over by the wind, she would make sure it was put upright again because to her it symbolized God and His angels watching over us. I know that I don't need this statue present for that to be the case, but for me too it has become a tangible reminder that God is in control and that he does command his angels concerning us. It brings me comfort and peace.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 08:27AM CST
Comment by natalie

Thank you Ann for this reminder that running around doing good deeds can rob us of valuable time that we should be spending with the One who created us and knows us so well. Just as Martha made herself busy, but Mary chose well to sit at the feet of Jesus. We are all guilty n getting caught up in our business of activities. But when it comes down to it really it is just between me and Jesus. May you be blessed abundantly.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 09:59AM CST
Comment by Donnie of Royston, GA

Ann, just the words I needed to hear. I think this year is a good one for me to focus on that are truly important. Thank you for your wise words!

Posted January 03, 2017 at 12:32PM CST
Comment by S. V. of Gainesville, GA

Ann, great devotional this morning, thank you.
KAREN of Jackson MS, thank you for sharing about how WAR ROOM was so impactful in your prayer life. I watched it this very evening. I learned who our true enemy is and how to pray and let God do the work. I am starting tomorrow morning. Life changing. Sending blessings your way.

Posted January 03, 2017 at 09:46PM CST
Comment by Michelle of Wynnewood, PA

Thank you Ann, like the other comments shared, we often become too immersed in "busy" to honor God with our praise and focus on His Word and to sustain our earthly relationships. So much of our time anxiety I believe is created by our reliance on computer technology-endless emails at work and at home, text messages and even tweets. I hope to figure out practical ways to fast from media overload. God bless you for this insightful and much needed devotional reflection.

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Posted February 04, 2017 at 08:56PM CST