“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
“What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:9-10
“…there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work…” – Ecclesiastes 3:22
I’ve had a crazy week.
Last Sunday, I checked out the calendar to see what the schedule held in store for the next seven days. Ugh! I was not happy with what I saw! Every single day had something extra written into the allotted square. There was a doctor’s appointment, a women’s meeting, a counseling session, helping with an extra dinner at church, two meetings at my husband’s office, getting bloodwork taken, a birthday, a dinner with friends, and a Sunday School party. Those don’t include the activities that were added during the week: an unexpected trip to the dentist, my husband’s lunch with prospective students, and baking a cake for the church dinner. (My husband’s activities are included here because he isn’t able to drive, and I am his driver.)
Now, many of these things would not usually cause stress on their own. In fact, they often can be pleasurable. It’s not that I don’t enjoy dinners and birthdays and parties and getting together with friends; I just don’t enjoy them coming at once. Put them all together in one week’s schedule, and certain things are pushed aside and not achieved. Just the thought of it causes me anxiety!
How does this happen, this overscheduling?! Obviously, I’m the one who writes it on the calendar. Don’t I notice how full the days are becoming before I make the commitments?
Nevertheless, this frenzied week was upon me. And I wasn’t happy.
As I looked at the hectic schedule shouting at me on that calendar, I felt the stress pouring through my veins. My attitude took a nosedive and an overwhelming feeling took over. All I wanted to do was sit and sulk.
That’s what I desire when I get overwhelmed. I just want to shut down and do nothing. Well, actually, it isn’t nothing. Sulking and sitting are actions…like a little kid pouting when he doesn’t get his way. Yep. That’s a pretty good description. I want to pout…and sometimes I do.
Can you relate?
It seems we need to get a handle on all of this—these out-of-control schedules that wreak havoc . So, what should we do when faced with an upcoming wild week?
I found some encouragement in Ecclesiastes 3:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” “What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time…” “…there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work…” (Eccl. 3:1, 9-10, 22).
Many times we have more on our plates than we think we can handle. But His Word tells us that if God has allowed it in our day, He has a purpose in it and it is a part of His plan. We must remember this and gain a better perspective. Each activity needs to be seen as a God-given opportunity to serve Him, to find the beauty in what we do, and to rejoice in the experience.
I’ve often heard the saying: “How do you eat an elephant?…One bite at a time.”
This certainly applies here. A hectic agenda can be as overwhelming as trying to eat an elephant all at once. Yet, we can victoriously conquer a busy week by taking it day by day, hour by hour, activity by activity.
In praying about all this, I’ve found some steps to follow whenever faced with an overloaded schedule:
- Change what can be changed. Look to see if anything on the schedule can be postponed until a less busy week to allow some breathing room.
- Be sure to spend time with God every day. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your devotions with God, thinking you just don’t have time. Find your guidance and strength for the day from the One who has the power to make it all work according to His plan. (Matt. 6:9-11)
- Take it one day at a time. Spend your time and place your thoughts on what must be done for this one day only. (Matt. 6:34)
- Keep your focus on the current task. Don’t spend time thinking about upcoming activities. Stay present and do your best to glorify the Lord through it. (1 Cor. 10:31)
- Enjoy the moment. Don’t let an oversaturated schedule ruin the joy of each activity. Find the beauty in everything. (1 Thess. 5:16)
- Be flexible. As you go through the week, some things may get cancelled; others may need to be added. Some usual weekly activities may need to be postponed until next week.
- Always be grateful and give thanks to the Lord in everything. (1 Thess. 5:18)
When a crazy week threatens to take you down, trust the Lord’s calming grace to help you stand firm and be victorious.
Dearest Father, when we are faced with an overburdened calendar and we start to be overwhelmed, give us Your perspective and guide us in each step. Fill us with Your strength and ability to be victorious and complete each needed activity with excellence, all the while rejoicing and giving thanks. Help us to keep our focus on You, Your purpose, and Your power, trusting You to make everything beautiful in Your time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Calendar photo by Sabra Penley