What are you going to give up in order to do that?

August 31, 2012

Psalm 69:1-3

"God, God, save me! I'm in over my head, Quicksand under me, swamp water over me; I'm going down for the third time." (The Message)

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

I love to take on new projects. I've never had a new idea I didn't like. At the time, I always think I can take it on and add one more thing. It's like time is elastic and it can expand to include every single thing I want to do.

I think at some points in history, we called that heresy. The only one who can stretch and fold time is God. We humans all get the same twenty-four hours in the day to work with, regardless of our good ideas about how we might spend it.

So when I want to take on a new project, I like to run it by a wise person or two. And if I am filled with enthusiasm for the new thing, the wisest one will ask me this pointed question: "What are you going to give up in order to do that?"

Because every time we take on a new project, there will be less time for something else. Every time we say another "Yes," we should be honest and admit that somewhere else we may end up having to say "No." We can do this consciously or unconsciously.

When we do it unconsciously, we end up overwhelmed, late for everything, missing deadlines, letting people down, staying up too late and then sleeping through the morning's alarm, drowning in a quicksand of over-commitment.

But when we do it consciously, it's an opportunity to prayerfully evaluate how we are spending those precious twenty-four hours a day we have been given. We can say yes to the new thing, but we will need to say no to an old thing. Perhaps in asking that question, the new thing seems less important, or perhaps it feels more important than ever. But at least we've been honest and asked the question. Life is too precious to spend it drowning in our own sloppy decisions.

Prayer

I pray for the wisdom to know when to say "Yes," and when to say "No," and for the courage to ask the hard question. Amen.

About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

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