Tyranny of the Urgent

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world”
-John 15:19, NIV

Peace…ahh peace. Sitting on a beach, watching the waves crash in hypnotic rhythm on the shore. Listening to a Whippoorwill call to its mate in early spring. Finally, time to finish that compelling book that takes you back in time. It’s time to unwind, time to drift…..time…

Okay maybe for about 20 minutes and then it’s time to pickup the kids from school, give them a snack, take them to their after-school activities, come home, fix dinner, pickup the kids again, serve dinner, take care of the dog, set the table, eat, decide who finished their homework, who gets to play downstairs for an hour, discuss the bills with your husband, figure out what’s important tomorrow and…then (if you’re lucky) get to bed before 11 p.m. Just a day in the life of today’s woman! It’s the tyranny of the urgent, right?

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is one of my favorite quotes because it covers a multitude of issues. Just because you’ve been saving this, doesn’t mean you should, just because you can pile on more activities in the day, doesn’t mean you should. What I’m really saying is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean God intends for you to do it.”


It seems like most people I know struggle with this lifestlye – too much on their plates and not enough time to do it all. Sadly, we have become a nation of workaholics. That’s why vacations are so necessary. It helps just to get out of our day-to-day routines and into different surroundings so we can get recharged.

Remember the story of Lot and Abraham? In Genesis chapter 13, Lot decides to leave his Uncle Abe in search of greener pastures. Due to arguments, Lot and Abe separate. “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives’” (vs. 8). “Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt” (vs. 10). But what Lot didn’t see was that Sodom and Gomorrah were smack dab in the middle of those greener pastures. How he positioned his tent gave rise to inward desires. In deciding to separate from Abraham, Lot and his family went to live close to the people in Sodom. “Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom” (vs. 12). “Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD” (vs. 13). Eventually, Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot had settled, was plundered, whereupon Lot was taken into captivity with all his goods. Later in the story, Lot and a few of his family members are able to escape God’s wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let’s examine what led Lot to desire to live there in the first place. Some would say that its human nature to desire greener pastures and it’s always easier to fit in than to stand out. Our lesson … we have been called to be in the world, not of it. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (John 15:19, NIV). In other words, if we eye those greener pastures we will become like the world around us. (The world’s urgencies become our urgencies.)

Today’s society is so into microwaving that we have forgotten that God is into marinating. He wants to get inside of us, not just get us cooking. By expecting life to be instant (digital clocks, quickie dinners, sound bites) then we move and think at breakneck speed, forgetting to stop.

One of my dear friends has a wonderful way of stopping. When she’s driving and comes to a stop sign, she actually stops (really… I know… it’s hard to believe). She counts to three, takes a deep breath, and thanks God. She continues to ask for His protection over wherever she goes. She’s then able to concentrate on the here and now. She has also learned the art of prioritizing. (I know why she is a great friend of mine!)

How do we know the difference between what we need to do and what God has called us to do? It starts with listening. As we spend time getting quiet, listening to our hearts, and listening/reading His Word, we will know what He wants us to do. I just love it when I get thought that I have absolutely no idea where it came from – that need to call a certain someone I haven’t seen in 20 years or the need to pray for my neighbor. I chuckle knowing that it wasn’t my idea. I know I didn’t have them on my to-do list, but it was on God’s to-do list for me.

My number one priority is to listen to the still small voice.

What if today’s action really counts for your tomorrows? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Throw the urgent out the door and settle down with a great cup of your favorite four-minute brewed tea, some freshly made muffins, and listen to the stories your family has to tell – and don’t forget to listen for that still small voice!

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