I cleaned out my pantry today. It was not an overly exciting project, but boy does it feel good! I can’t believe how much stuff we have accumulated over the years. By the end of the day, the recycling and trash bins were both full. As a teacher, summers were my time to catch up. It was my time to not only do a bit of cleaning but also to catch up on projects, reading, relationships, family, and self-care. What are you needing to catch up on this summer? If you are like most educators, your list is pretty long!
Can you believe there is only one weekend left in June? Unfortunately, my catch-up list has not been dwindling much. I start each week with somewhat of a plan, but before I know it, the week is gone, and my list remains untouched. Part of me is bothered by this, but another part of me says, “Who cares! It’s summer!” Quite honestly, I’m not sure which attitude to take at times.
I’m beginning to think it would be wise to take a step back and do a little reflection. If we are not careful, we can start thinking God doesn’t care about our daily checklists, but I strongly believe He loves us enough to engage in every detail of our lives. There are only so many hours in the day, and we don’t want to get ourselves in a pickle by focusing on the wrong things. We need to be good stewards of the time God has given us. I’m sensing a need for wisdom. You know what? In faith, we can ask for it!
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6
If you are struggling with playing catch-up this summer, you may want to stop and ask God for guidance. I have no doubt He will answer. He did so for me recently. Let me share two thoughts God has placed on my heart.
First, life happens. I know; that’s not too profound, but I think this is something that can easily be forgotten. Sometimes our best-laid plans have to be set aside. I personally experienced this last week. Without going into detail, someone I love dearly needed me. What I thought was important to accomplish last week suddenly no longer was. God wasn’t fazed by this, and (not surprisingly) He took care of all the details. Most importantly, I never once thought about playing catch-up. He literally took that long list off my mind. For those of you who know me, you know what a gift that was. By His grace, I was able to be fully present when “life happened” and live out one of my favorite verses.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
When life deals you an interruption, and it will eventually, go with it. Seek, learn, grow, and trust. God will take care of the details.
Second, the enemy messes with my focus. Does he do that to you? Distractions seem to be all too present, leaving me feeling a bit frustrated and unproductive. I realize distractions are a natural part of life, but I’m sensing I need to do some prioritizing of my catch-ups to ensure I remain focused on what’s most important. I have a tendency to make laundry lists of tasks and assign each item an equal weight of importance. It probably goes without saying that my catch-up list is too long, but that doesn’t seem to deter me. I can become overwhelmed trying to get everything done. Frustration is the first sign for me that I haven’t prayed enough or listened enough to how God is directing. I’ve lost my focus, and you can be sure Satan is behind it, especially if my priorities are focused on Kingdom work (I Peter 5:8).
If you’re a list person, by all means, make a list. If not, that’s okay, too. I’m learning the most important action when playing catch-up is to pray. Praying invites God into the equation. What is important to Him? Prayer helps our priorities align with His. When this happens, we don’t experience frustration but an onslaught of His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).
I could probably stop the blog right here, but I want to share one area God is emphasizing for me in hopes it will encourage you. One thing I know I have sacrificed in the past is relationships. I’ve been so work-driven that I haven’t taken the time to foster relationships like I should. Specific relationships have been on my catch-up list for a long time. I know this has to become a priority.
Maybe you have an old friend or colleague you haven’t talked to in a long time. God has placed this person on your heart, but you’ve just been busy and put off reaching out to this individual. Take advantage of your opportunity this summer to catch up with this person and strengthen your relationship. Maybe you have let your health take a beating this past year. Perhaps long nights, short weekends, and sheer exhaustion have prevented you from going for walks or fixing healthy meals that make you feel better. Don’t put it off any longer. It’s okay to take care of yourself physically. Maybe you have fallen behind in your prayer and Bible reading time. Use this summer to catch up. Give yourself permission to spend a little extra time each day in God’s Word and in prayer. Soon you’ll start to cherish the time, and you will find yourself refreshed with a new habit established for the start of another school year. We can all sit down and think of things we’ve put off. It happens to all of us. What is on your catch-up list this summer? Time is limited. Be flexible when life happens, but also be purposeful and set some priorities. Don’t let summer pass you by. Pray and play a little catch-up!