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Biting Off More Than We Can Chew

Dr. Michael Thomas

We had a visit this weekend with my sister, her husband and their children. They came up to visit us for a few days. They have recently returned from a stint as missionaries in Brazil. As we sat around the table talking, Bonnie and I asked them what struck them the most on their return to the United States. Both began to talk about their friends who barely had time to even get reacquainted with them again. They were too busy going to soccer practice, piano lessons, baseball practice, karate, choir, working out at the fitness center, etc., to even find the time to get together. Everyone they talked with felt pressured and overwhelmed by the very concentrated routine of their lives. There is very little time in most of our lives to just simply be.

Someone pointed out to me a long time ago, that we are human beings not human doings but that hasn’t stopped most of us from living jam-packed lives. My sister and her husband related that in Brazil, people take the time to really talk with each other. When they met people, these people would stop and really reveal themselves and not just engage in surface chitchat. It took them aback at first, but they came to appreciate the genuine nature of their interactions with others. Life has a slower pace in Brazil. There is time to listen, to each other, and perhaps to their own hearts. It would seem they have the time to be human.

A lot of us bite off more than we can chew. Maybe we think we need to bite off the biggest possible piece because we are afraid of ending up with too little. Maybe we have become so accustomed to the bigger is better syndrome that we don’t even know when our plates (and our bellies!) are full. Like the bumper sticker says, He who dies with the most toys, wins. But what do we win? Most of us seem to win a life full of constant anxiety over losing the indigestible mash that we have taken on.

So many of us never stop to consider what the way we have chosen to live our lives is costing us. And not just us, but our children and our friends; what are we doing to our environment and what is the cost to other people in distant parts of the world? How many millions of folks, men women and children, live in abject poverty so we can continue our endless quest for more? Its not an abstract question. Who assembled your tennis shoes? Who sewed your pants and shirt? More than that, do you even care? We never see them unless you turn on the TV at night to catch a program that points it out.

Remember: more than 40,000 children die of hunger everyday. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Are they expendable because they live on the other side of the world and we don’t have to look at them? Does it seem likely that people so subjugated would become angry at the inequity? Could these people strike out in an irrational manner? How would you feel if you lived a life that lacked even basic sanitation, clean water and adequate food for yourself and your family? What if your whole society was locked into such a nightmare? There are many millions of people who live in this exact situation right now all over the planet. Its just so easy to forget this when your only rest comes while you wait to fill up the gas tank of your SUV. It seems that there is no time to ponder these issues let alone do anything about them.

There is another kind of biting off more than you can chew. It comes as a call from God. This is not the ego driven desire for more and more. It comes from a far different place and leads to a far different result. So many people are desperately trying to hold the disparate parts of their lives together. Frightened that they might lose what they have, they still push to accumulate more. The pressure of such a life can be unbearable.

Sometimes God calls us to take on unimaginable tasks. These jobs could never be accomplished if it was really up to us to hold it all together. But when God has given you something to do, you are supported by His hand. You can juggle flaming chainsaws if you need to because God is using your hands and eyes and heart to accomplish his work upon the earth. Magnificent things can be done in His name.

Imagine if we were all busy striving to do His work, loving ourselves, our neighbors and taking the time to listen to God. Letting Him guide our hands, letting our words and actions reflect the love and truth that wells up in our deepest hearts. The Lord knows there is much to do. We would all still be very busy but what a change could be wrought. The impossible can be done, wrongs can be righted, and children can be fed. Men and women can relate to each other as the brothers and sisters that they truly are. Of course this is utopian talk. People may say, be real, that will never happen.

But what is impossible for God? Once we get started, the world changes. Its not as if there aren’t already brothers and sisters out there in the world right now doing the Lords work the best they can. The real miracle is the softening of all our hardened hearts, the lifting of the blinders that keep us from seeing the real effects of our actions, the remembrance that God is already within us and that we are all connected more intimately than we now know.

Perhaps the first step is the most difficult. Let God into your heart. And if you ever shut Him out, let Him back in again. Don’t let your past rob you of your future. Remember that God loves you, has always loved you, and always will. Let the love of Christ infuse your words and your actions. Open your eyes to the hand God already has in your life. Listen to your friends, and if you don’t have any, make some by being one. Then let Gods wisdom transform your life. How many does it take to change the world? The answer is as easy as feeling the pull of God within your own heart. Every time you acknowledge the stir of Gods Love within you, you have already changed the world. Do it everyday and the results will blossom in your life like precious wildflowers in a fertile field.