The Problem with Over-Commitment

My house is in disarray. Well, that would really be putting it mildly since the entire contents of our generously-sized, walk-in pantry is now residing in our den, on the dining room table, and on the kitchen counters and floor. In the main area of the normally large kitchen, there is a large industrial sized set of rolling wire rack shelves temporarily set up to warehouse a selected number of now homeless items.

A View of My Den
A View of My Den

This all is a result of a major remodeling project that is underway. A couple of weeks ago our original wire shelves in the pantry were torn out and discarded and in their place, sturdy steel framed solid wood shelves are in the process of being built. But as frequently is the case with ‘do-it-yourself’ ventures, a ‘weekend’ project always takes more time and is way more involved than was first thought.

I know that once the shelves are complete and everything is back in order I will be thrilled with the result, but right now, the disorder is disruptive. There isn’t a single space in our sitting area that isn’t covered with containers of flour, sugar, pasta, rice, cereal, and any number of other cans, boxes, jars and bins. Just trying to locate a tea bag requires stepping over, around, and through a culinary obstacle course. The mess has exponentially complicated the process of making a simple, basic meal and even looking into the jumbled den fractures my thinking and leaves me frustrated and bothered.

imag0066As I was standing at the edge of the room sending out a ping for the box of oatmeal one morning this week, it occurred to me that my cluttered room is a lot like the lives many people live today. Between work demands, social obligations, family necessities and an ever increasing number of requirements, our lives have become so confused with commitments that there is often no breathing room at all. We trip and stumble from one thing to another, carrying with us a load of anxiety and frustration, all the time wondering why we can’t stay focused and on task.

This is often due to the fact that there is no space in our lives. Most of us pack one thing on top of the other until we can hardly function at all, but since our overstuffed lives are not as easy to see as the scattered contents of my pantry, we don’t really realize the effect it has on us.

Author Dr. Robert Swenson said it like this.

“If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. But we don’t have such an indicator light, and we don’t know when we have overextended until we feel the pain. As a result, many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy. It is rare to see a life pre-scheduled to only 80 percent, leaving a margin for responding to the unexpected that God sends our way.”

How many people do you know who live like that… purposefully clearing away the clutter to build space for God to work?

The truth is that our God desires for His children to live focused lives that are centered on Him and invested in His kingdom, but we can’t make ourselves available to His plans if our schedules are so over packed that there’s nothing left at the end of each day. Therein lies the problem with over-commitment: Our busy lives push God out.

Women’s Bible teacher Lysa TerKerurst makes an excellent connection between a decluttered lifestyle and our ability to hear and respond to the Lord. Essentially, she says… Never are believers so fulfilled as when they choose to underwhelm their schedules so they can let God overwhelm their souls.

An exhausted mind and a fatigued heart cannot glorify God.

My New Shelves

Even when our days are filled with good things, they will never be the ‘best thing,’ if we have no time for Him.  And… busyness also tempts us to do the exact opposite of Proverbs 3:5-6… that is, to “lean on our own understanding” of what is important in each day and allow no time for us to listen to God and to let Him “direct our path.”

So as my home improvement project nears its end, and I clean up the mess and make some much needed space in my house, maybe you can join me in doing a little soul cleaning as well. Let’s take inventory of our lives, and begin to straighten up, throw out, and/or put our activities in better order so that we create some room for Jesus to work. When we make this kind of space, it allows us to breathe and become better positioned to hear God say “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

14 thoughts on “The Problem with Over-Commitment

  1. Love you pantry project. We went through a kitchen remodel and well the refrigerator was in the den and the stove was gone and I cooked in an old 40 year old electric skillet.

    Love your reminder that the good things are not necessarily the best things with Him. I so try to remember that when my schedule gets changed it seems daily.

  2. Beautiful analogy! I can truly relate to the “cluttered room” lifestyle especially as a husband, father, Quality Supervisor, Associate Pastor, and ministry leader. I’m not even sure how I find the time to blog! But it wasn’t until this past summer that I had a much needed “empty pantry” experience. It was the best thing I have done in ages. Now, as I begin to restock my mind and heart I am more careful as to what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what must be at the front of the shelves for easy and regular reach. The process is working out well, so far, and your post has encouraged me to stay on track. Thank you Karen!

  3. I loved that you shared your pantry project with us! Great analogy too! “An exhausted mind and a fatigued heart cannot glorify God.” God has purposed rest for us so that we can glorify Him in all things. We need time and space and rest and quiet to maintain our focus on Him. May we find rest for our souls in Him!

  4. I had to laugh at the do-it-yourself project timeline situation! So true! I always tease my husband … an estimate of a couple hours? A day. A weekend project is really at least a 2 weekend project! Lol! Thanks for the great reminder to not overwhelm our schedules to shut out time for God. I always love my time here, Karen! Thanks so much for being such a great part of #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,

  5. I needed this reminder, Karen. I need to say no to several things and not let what others think cause me to add more to my already full life. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  6. Gosh how I love this Karen…”soul cleaning” …YES! And I hope your ping for the oatmeal proved fruitful! That line cracked me up! I have stood in the mess of an over-committed schedule many times.. and felt the effects… hello speeding ticket. 🙁 Margin is so necessary for us to rest and for God to reset us. Thanks for the call to listen up today! ♥

  7. I also agree with Matthew. I have learned this the hard way. I used to live a busy, full, driven life that I thought included God. Four years ago, I was “given” a brain injury that still has no explanation and my life with God has been completely changed. My life now revolves around what He has asked me to do and I spend much of my day trying to walk with Him. I never would have guessed it, but my life is slower, more peaceful, and more filled with God. What a blessing!

  8. Karen- yes!!! My problem is I’ve been going so fast for so long, when I clear my schedule, I still don’t know how to rest and be still.
    I’m learning to accept the moments of quiet, but it’s intentional action.

    I want to hear God and not let the busyness drown Him out!

    Great post!

  9. Living at 80% would be so refreshing for most of us, yes? But 120% is more what we see. Sigh. Praying to make more space in my life. And for your renovation project to go smoothy and quickly. 🙂

  10. Goodness Karen, I needed this. And, this is the second post today urging me to stop and breathe. Hmmm. Will begin clearing out today! I’m your neighbor today at Thought Provoking Thursday.

  11. This is very true. Some people are just too busy for the things of God and if that is the case, then they are too busy. We need to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and check with Him whether we should be taking on new things and also whether we should be continuing with existing things. God can and will reduce the burdens of busy schedules if we will allow Him to. We need to learn to say no to people – as God directs, and that includes church-connected things. Not everything that is good, is God’s will for us. We need to learn the difference between a good thing and a God thing.

    1. I totally agree Matthew! When we are exhausted and over-committed, we can’t hear God tell us what He wants us to do, so we end up running around doing alot of things that don’t do much for the kingdom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *