“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

This is a beautiful and telling verse.

I have not fallen off the wagon, but this week has been rather busy, and as much as I have wanted to, I just haven’t been able to fit writing in.  I have gotten up early.   I have tried and tried to carve out time to get it done, but inevitably something has gotten in the way.  Time and time again, I have gotten distracted by something.  However, as usual, God has used this experience to lay something important on my heart. 

This weekend, I had the good fortune of attending the Country Music marathon in Nashville with some awesome people from my running group.   I will be honest, however.  I stressed about this trip all week.  It weighed on me.  I had this gut feeling that this was not how I was supposed to be spending my time.  I’m not sure if it was just the Mommy stress of leaving my kids for the weekend or if it was truly not what I was supposed to be doing.  Regardless, I was, and still am, very unsettled about this trip.  

Don’t get me wrong, despite a very, very rainy run, I had very good time.  I loved spending time with some great people in a great city doing something I love.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  But I still feel like maybe this is a nudge from God to question HOW I am spending my time and how my family is spending their time on a daily basis. 

I have spent the last 15 years, operating at a break neck pace.  I have done 5 Ironman triathlons. We have started our own business, twice.  We have grown those businesses to triple their original size.  We have moved, had children, yada, yada, yada. 

I have subscribed to the mantra of our society to do more, be more, get more, and earn more.  More, more, more.  Be uber busy.  Workout more, run longer, buy more house, do things you have never done, work harder, be successful, be more successful, give your kids every opportunity possible.   Don’t miss out.  It is exhausting just writing about it.

I think I need more time to “fit things” in.  News flash.  Hello, hello.  No one is getting more time.  Not me, not you, no one.  I believe God is all powerful, but last I checked, the faithful weren’t getting an extra hour in their day.  We all get 24 glorious hours.  I am choosing what to do during those hours, and with all that constant activity, I am completely distracted and often exhausted.

Although I have not had the time to write, I have had time to pick up a new book.  I’ve mentioned Craig Groeschel before, and now I am reading one of his books called “Weird.”  It is a phenomenal book. I would highly recommend it.  The premise of the book is based on the above verse from Matthew.  We are called to travel through the small gate and on the narrow road and in order to do that, we are going to have to go against the grain. We are going to have to be comfortable with being a bit Weird. 

“Everyone” won’t be doing what we are called to do.  “Everyone” won’t even understand what we are doing.  “Everyone” might tell you to do the exact opposite and it is likely going to be uncomfortable.  I might have to get out of my comfort zone.  Hmmm….see why I love this book?

As I wrestled all week with a decision regarding my trip, I began reading Weird.  Miraculously, the first chapter is on time, specifically, what we spend our time on. 

He quotes a biblical story out of Luke that is really telling.  It is about two sisters who are hosting Jesus in their home.  One basically sat at the feet of Jesus and spent time with him while the other one, Martha, “got distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”  Luke 10: 40. 

Martha actually whines “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  And Jesus answers her with this:  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her.”

What I find really fascinating/telling about this passage, besides the fact that Martha whines just like I do sometimes, is that Martha got distracted by something pretty simple and harmless.  It doesn’t say she got distracted by porn or greed or her selfish need for attention.  If it said that, I could put on our best judgemental attitude and conclude that Martha is obviously a worse sinner than I am.  And then I could go on about my day feeling like a pretty good Christian. 

But, it doesn’t say that.  It says that she got distracted by “preparations that had to be made.”  Groeschel points out that her pursuits were not unethical and actually quite understandable.  She basically felt like she needed to get some things done instead of sitting at Jesus feet and spending time with him.  The point is, even seemingly innocent things or good things, can distract us from what God wants us to experience. 

Let’s be real.  I’m often going so fast and furious that there is no way I am able to take in all the things God is doing around me.  How often do I spend time “getting things done” instead of spending time on things that matter?  

Here is a quote he uses to illustrate that point.   “If the devil can’t make you really bad, then he will try to make you really busy.”  Ouch.  Yes, I have been really busy for many years. 

Although I still struggle with how I spent my time this weekend, I did make some progress.  You see, I love to run.  I love to ride my bike. I love triathlons.  In general I love to do anything that involves moving my body.  And it seems like the more I do it, the more I want.  Farther is better, faster is better.  If 5 hours a week is good, 10 is better.  I know most people cannot relate to that, but over time, I have just grown to love it.  And, in the past, it has certainly been a distraction.  I trained on Sunday mornings.  There was no time for church.  I defined my worth by my performance.  I put training above my relationship with my husband.  I put training above my relationship with everyone.  It was definitely a distraction. 

But this weekend, I signed up for the half-marathon versus the marathon. I own a running store.  If someone is going to do the marathon, it should be me.  But I am running a different race now, a race that is not measured by the distance that I run, the amount of money that I make, the way I look or the amount of “success” I achieve here on earth.  I am content with 13.1 miles versus 26.2.  100% content.  It brought me great joy to be running along and see the marathoners go one direction to continue to pound out their additional miles, while I made a turn in the opposite direction to finish my 13.1.  I never once felt any ounce of guilt or sense of regret.  Not once.  It felt good to do less.

There are a lot of things in this life to distract us from the one thing that is needed, a relationship with Christ.  I don’t think I even realize how many things are getting in the way and what I am missing by keeping my schedule so full all the time.  In a world of more, more, more, it is time to be contented with what I have.  It’s time to quiet my soul and listen.  It’s time to quit seeking my own definition of success, but instead seek the Lord’s.  I am quite certain I will fail many times over, but it’s at least time to move in that direction.

So, I have made some inroads here already, but I still think that my life and the schedule of my family deserve some careful consideration.  We have one life on this earth to live and I personally am a bit tired of being too busy to do the things that matter.  So, the challenge to myself today is to look at our schedule for the next month (which is a crazy, crazy month) and find at least 5 times or ways that I can lessen our load.  Ways that we can consciously make a change and choose to spend our time on things that matter.   

“Normal people allow good things to become the enemy of the best things.”  Normally, I would be distracted by too many good things.  Today I will cut out some good things to make room for the Best.  “Martha has chosen what is better.”  Will I?