Summary: God has a clear purpose for each of us, and God's wants us to be happy and experience a wonderful life even now. The key to being happy is being able to follow God's call and purpose for our lives fully and completely, without giving preference to less im
I know that I usually begin this time with the reading of the Scripture that will guide the message. I’m going to do things a little differently this morning, though, because both of these Scripture readings are stories that will help move the message forward. This morning we continue with a four-week sermon series begun last week called “Hanging in the Balance: Antidotes for the Crazy Life.” Throughout the month of September we will be considering our often crazy lives, and how the wisdom of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus can help us keep things in balance.
Last week, we were reminded of the Sabbath commandment, and our obligation to create space in our lives for resting and re-connecting with God. And so as we continue today, we are going to consider how it is, exactly, that we can structure our lives in a way that is consistent with the will and commands of our God.
You know, there are lots of things that we can get more of. If we need clothes, we can go to the department store. We can go to the grocery store or into the garden when we need more food. If we need more money, we can try and find more work. But there’s almost nothing we can do if we need more time. We are totally limited when it comes to the hours and days we have to work with. There are 24 hours in a day, and that’s it. There’s nowhere we can go to “pick up” more time. There’s nothing we can do to buy more time. We’ve got to work with what we’ve got, and that’s 168 hours a week.
So this week, I did a little project. I made a 24-hour box. When we think of time as a box, it becomes easy to see what fills our time, and when we’ve run out. So, I started to fill my box. I put in a pillow. Of course, we all need sleep, and that takes a good chunk of our time each day. I’ve got a plate and cup in here to represent meal time. Then there’s my family, I’ve got some pictures of them in here. And work; my work is represented by this chalice and the UM Book of Discipline. I’m a Christ follower, so I’ve got my cross and Bible in here because I try the best I can through devotion and service to live that out every day. Then there’s my friends, I like to spend time with them too. When I have some spare time I like to relax with a book or a bike ride; hobbies take time too.
You can see how quickly our time fills up. And you can also see how when the box gets full, there’s nowhere else to put stuff. Of course, the same is true of our time. We all have 168 hours per week, and once you fill it up, you can’t get anything else in there. So today we’re going to think about how to use our time wisely, and it basically boils down to this; we have to say “no” sometimes so that we can say “yes” to the more important things. If you’re going to put something more in the box, then something has to come out. If you’re going to say “yes” to one thing, then you have to be ready to say “no” to something else. Or if you simply say “yes” to everything then some things just start to fall out of the box. And so the question is, what are you saying “no” to, and is that something you’re willing to let go? Because if we just keep trying to jam stuff in, we can get overwhelmed pretty quickly; listen to Moses’ predicament.
[Read Exodus 18: 13-26]
So here is Moses; God has given the Ten Commandments and the Law to the people through Moses, and now Moses sits as the sole arbiter of the law. From morning to night every single day, people line up to receive advice and judgment on the law from Moses. He’s the only one making these judgments, and it’s the only thing he’s doing all day long. Can you imagine what that must be like? Well, you probably can because we do the same thing in our own lives. Anyway, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, shows up and he sees what Moses is doing. And he essentially looks at Moses and says, “You’re crazy! People are lined up around your tent from morning to night, and it’s only going to get worse. This is idiotic! You can’t do this by yourself!”
But that was the problem to begin with, wasn’t it? Moses did think he could do it all by himself; he felt like he was the only one who was in touch with God, he thought he was the only was capable of doing that particular job. And don’t we do the same thing? So often we think, “I’m the only person who can do that.” And so we say “yes.” As if life wouldn’t go on if we said “no.” And then, potentially, because we couldn’t say “no,” other people who could’ve had a new opportunity, and maybe even done a better job than us, are denied that because we said “yes” to something we didn’t need to say “yes” to. And then to top it all off, we drive ourselves crazy trying to fit in another thing we didn’t need to fit in anyway, and the next thing you know we’re complaining about how busy we are and how we can never get anything done!