As I consider what it means to fast from busyness this lenten season, I am immediately reminded of my own recent, partially successful, attempts to get my schedule under control. As last fall drew to a close, I found myself feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and over-committed. I was constantly busy but I never felt like I got anything done. I spent so much time on peripherals, I was not able to spend time doing things I really wanted to do. Sound familiar?

Through reflection and some wise brothers (aka my discipleship groups), I came to understand that every time I say, “Yes” to something, I am tacitly saying, “No” to other opportunities. This is true of any decision we make, large or small. This dynamic is perhaps more obvious with large decisions. When we choose somewhere to live or a new job, we carefully weigh our options and are quite aware of the alternatives we are saying, “No” to. With smaller decisions, like signing up for a new volunteer opportunity, getting coffee with a friend, or deciding what to do with an evening, we are far less likely to examine all of our alternatives and what we might be giving up by saying, “Yes.”

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with signing up to serve soup at the local shelter, enjoying the company of friends, or spending a relaxing evening vegging out with your favorite show. Indeed, these are often good and healthy things to do. Pastor Ernie frequently talks about our tendency to allow “good things” to become or replace “ultimate things.” When our schedules are so full of “good things” that we cannot spend time with our Heavenly Father, we have allowed them to replace the most important thing. Instead of being consumed by our busyness, we should start saying, “No” so that we may say, “Yes” to time with God.

In this, Jesus is our model. In Luke 5:15-16, we read that, “Great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities,” (v. 15). Jesus responded by withdrawing from the crowds and spending time in prayer (v. 16, also Mark 1:35). Instead of being caught up in the good he was doing by preaching to the crowds and healing the sick, he understood that spending time with his Father and obedience to his will were more important. Jesus said, “No” to preaching and healing so that he could say, “Yes” to time with his Heavenly Father.

As a community, we have decided to fast from busyness during Lent. In this season, examine your busy schedule, prayerfully considering which items you can say, “No” to, either temporarily or long-term, so that you may say, “Yes” to Him.