I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes through seasons in life where God is teaching me different things. Some lessons are quick and relatively painless, while others look a little bit more like God dragging me along as I try desperately to dig in my heels and hold on to my humanness.

My current spiritual training started this past winter. I can distinctly remember sitting in my car at an intersection in my town some Saturday morning having dropped my son off at hockey practice. Saturday mornings are my sermon podcast mornings and I was listening to Mark Clark. He was talking about how many of us – including him – are doers for God, and us doers might at times forget about the importance of developing a loving relationship with God.

That definitely struck a chord with me. I’m totally a doer. I’ve found incredible fulfillment in my job where I can be doing my doing for God through my work. When I’m not working for God in my job, I have a husband to care for and three kids to raise. I’m a Dutch farm kid, so the doing doesn’t stop most days until I fall into my chair at the end of the day with nothing left to give.

So I was left asking myself, How much do I prioritize just loving God? Spending time with him? Getting to know him? Being still in his presence? Wondering at what he's done?

To be honest, as a doer that sounds a little mundane, a little ineffective, and perhaps not the best use of my time. Is it actually true that just having one-on-one time with God is more important than the work he has me doing?

It sounds selfish. I mean, I know it’s about God – but is it really about God and me? Let’s be honest: I’m not the benefactor in that relationship!

A few weeks later I heard another sermon where the pastor talked about our mission circles. He said the first mission ground we have is ourselves – coming before spouses, children and jobs. Again, that sounded selfish to me, but is it? Should I be prioritizing time with just me and God over the doing and serving stuff of my life?

Shortly after that COVID-19 hit, and while many were forced to have some stillness, the pressures of my doing life crowded in as I faced the challenge of continuing work with three kids at home. It has been clear to me through this time that my doing jobs are never going away, but I still felt God calling me to spend more time with him, getting to know him, and learning to love him more deeply.

As God often does, he echoed this idea a few times through different sources – through bible study, through bible reading, and again through a sermon, though this time it was Tim Keller. As I was reading through Job, Tim described how God allowed Satan to take everything away from Job except God himself. God never deserted Job through this, and Job was forced to decide if he loved God for God, or if he loved God for what God was giving him.

This had me thinking, Do I love God for God? Or do I love to be busy for God? Do I love God for the roles he gives me? If God took away my family, my job or my health that allows me to be busy, would I still find contentment and fulfillment in him? Or would I be completely lost and empty because I couldn’t be doing?

God brought it home by speaking to me through his three-times-repeated question of Peter. You know the one: Peter do you love me more than these? I could hear God saying:

Carolyn, do you love me more than your work?

Yes God; you know I love you.

But Carolyn, do you love me more than your ability to be busy?

Yes God; you know I love you.

But Carolyn, do you love me more than you love your identity as a hard-working Dutch farm girl?

God I hope so, but maybe you have some work to do.

So I’m carrying on in my season of growth and trying to practice stillness with God – just reading, praying, listening and letting my love for Him grow. It does take time that I have to give up elsewhere.

Maybe you’ve already learned this lesson, or maybe there’s something other than busyness that gets in your way.

Selfless service is a gift from God that he can use in beautiful ways, but I encourage you: don’t feel like it’s selfish to be your own mission field first. God wants us to be in deep communion with him, spending time one-on-one with him, allowing him to shepherd us so we want for nothing, to lead us to those quiet pastures and still waters, to restore our souls before we go out and do our doing.

Perhaps the best way to sum this up is to consider the church in Ephesus and the passage from Revelation 2:

I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. – Revelation 2:2-4

May we hold on to our first love, and deepen that love daily, so we are equipped to continue to persevere and endure in our service of others.

© 2020 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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