One day several weeks ago I was feeling especially stressed and pressed for time. My day had too many obligations in it already, when a few urgent fires flared up that screamed for my attention. In my alarmed state, I concluded that something had to go. There was just no way that everything on the “to do” list was going to get done on this particular day, so I started the mental process of trying to decide what I could put off until another day.
I had just completed one errand and was on my way to the next. While sitting at a red light and wishing that someone had the sense to time these things better, (nope, you’re right, it wasn’t a God-inspired thought and I did repent) I came to the conclusion that I could add an hour to my day if I cut out going to the gym. Truth be told, I really didn’t want to go anyway, I reasoned, and it didn’t HAVE to be done, so yea, there we go. I had just added an hour to my hectic day. I had no sooner made the decision to cut out my exercise time, when the Holy Spirit began speaking to my Spirit.
“You just cut out the important to make room for the urgent.”
Yes, that is exactly what I had done. The urgent usually screams and pitches a fit and without even thinking about it, I bow to its demands. I give it precedence, allowing it to dictate to me how I will spend the hours God has given me in a day. I get caught up in its fury and before I realize it, I have spent my entire day doing nothing that has real value to it.
Granted, there are times when the “urgent” must be moved up to “important.” Let’s say for instance that a certain husband and wife set about to do some rat killing. (That’s what my mom called running errands.) During the course of this hypothetical couple’s day the husband says that he needs to stop in to see one of his business clients. Now the wife, being what feels to her and appears to others to be about ten and a half months pregnant, welcomes the opportunity to spend a few minutes sitting in the car on such a beautiful spring day. After about thirty minutes though, the wife begins to wonder if her husband forgot she was out there. Although she has been enjoying just sitting and listening to the sounds of spring, the awful cramping pain that comes every seven minutes or so is beginning to put a damper on things. I did say that this was a hypothetical scenario, didn’t I? Anyway, the wife, not wanting to interrupt her husband’s business meeting, decides that walking around might help. It does, in that those nagging pains are happening every six minutes now. The wife, this not being her first pregnancy rodeo and all, makes the decision to interrupt the meeting. The urgent is now the important. She walks into the meeting that has been going on for about forty-five minutes by this point and politely lets her husband know that she is ready to go. He is obviously clueless to the fact that if he does not leave right then his wife may be giving birth on the nice guy’s office floor. He puts up his index finger and says, “Just one more minute.” So, the very sweet and loving wife walks out into the foyer of this business office in an attempt to buy “just one more minute” and quickly realizes that they have no more minutes. She goes back into the meeting and, less politely this time, looks her husband square in the eyes and says, “Let’s go NOW!” From the time this couple walks through the front door of the birthing center and the nurse informs the screaming wife that there is no time left for an epidural (if this were not a hypothetical story I would be willing to bet that the husband heard about taking too long in his meeting for years to come!) to the time they are holding their precious bundle of joy was just under forty minutes. So yea, the urgent can become important, but more often than not, it is just the squeakiest wheel whose goal is to distract me from my intended purpose.
There will always be the voice of the urgent jumping up and down yelling for my attention. When I concede to its demands without making a conscious decision to do so though, I am under its control instead of making it obedient to my Lord Jesus. I am allowing the devil, then, to steal my time and energy. Running around all day frantically beating out fires is physically and emotionally tiring; not to mention, the toll it takes on my spirit. I must, with authority and without guilt, learn to stay focused on the important and quit allowing the urgent to suck the life from me.
The Holy Spirit is my trusted counselor and He is very quick to alert me when I am being consumed with the urgent. My job is to be obedient to His warnings and to keep my eyes on Jesus. Like Peter, as soon as the storm captures my attention I sink and become in-over-my-head. I want Jesus to have my full focus every moment of the day. I want to stare so intently into His eyes that nothing can steal my attention away, not even an intentionally set, purpose- distracting fire of the enemy. I want to accomplish all that He has for me in a day and not miss the important by being consumed with the urgent.