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The Endless Pursuit of Empty Glory

“I just feel like I can’t keep up,” I muttered as I sat on the kitchen floor, back to the pile of dishes sitting on the counter for the third day in a row, defeated. Not just by the dishes, but by all the things of life. The commitments, the to-dos, the disappointments, even the good things in life seemed to be too much. Have you ever felt that way before?

That feeling of having so much filling your life that you can’t stop long enough to remember that some of it is good? I sat there feeling as though I was staring out the passenger window of a car driving too fast, wondering how many good things I’d failed to notice in the rush.

I remember reading a quote a few years back that runs through my mind often; especially when I catch myself answering the question, “How’ve you been?”

“Stop the glorification of busy.”

When someone asks me how I’m doing, it’s so easy for me to quickly answer, “Good… Busy”, as if it’s an automatic extension of my well being. The thing is, those friends aren’t asking about the status of my calendar, about how full my days are…they are asking how full my life is, how fulfilled my heart is.

There are times when I catch myself saying that, and realize that if I look back at my calendar I’m not so much busy as creating “busywork” for myself, and that’s where I really have to stop and take stock of where I’m at.

Why do I feel the need to fill my life with tasks? Why do I feel the need to “appear” busy?

If I’m honest, it comes down to an identity issue. On the surface, it’s comparison. At the root, it’s selfish idolatry. I have created an idol out of the person I think I should be, and placed my own value in this broken version of “busy”. To be busy is not wrong, but to seek busyness as a way to feel important is running after the wrong thing.

The question comes down to where our hearts are; what do our actions, in times of busy and times of rest, say about who (or what) rules our lives?

That quote, “Stop the glorification of busy,” has so much more meaning when you dig into the meanings of glory and glorification.

Glory is defined as high renown or honor won by notable achievements, magnificence, great beauty, to take great pride or pleasure in.

I’m not sure that my “busywork” is anything notable, and  I rarely “take pleasure in” it, although I seem to carry a fair amount of silent pride around over my projected importance.

Glorification is defined as the practice of acknowledging and revealing the glory of God by one’s actions, praise and worship of God, praise, honor or distinction extended by common consent, describing something as admirable.

I’m not sure how running myself ragged is praiseworthy or admirable, and it certainly isn’t an action that naturally reveals the glory of God .

If we are glorifying busyness, or the title we are hoping to achieve, if we are glorifying our work, or our family, or our bank accounts and status symbols…who is the god of our lives?

Our tasks and full calendars and the identities that they create for us are not innately wrong, but they in themselves are not worthy of praise, or honor. They are simply symptoms of our place in life, they are examples of where we place priority, they are circumstance. Placing any amount of value, importance or our precious identities in them creates an empty idolatry that leaves us sitting on floors wondering why we just don’t have the strength or focus to keep up.

There is only One who is worthy of that praise, and He has filled each of us to the brim with purpose and value and our identity is most true when it’s rooted deep in His truth. Out of this place of value, out of this knowing of our Savior and how He sees His creation flows all of those skills and gifts and good things we are striving for in the first place. The Bible declares all glory to God in all things and shows us how to do the same…

Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

1 Peter 4:10-11
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen

Our God, the creator of heaven and earth, the very definition of love, is magnificent. He is worthy of honor and praise, and our actions in all seasons of life should point to His glory.

With our eyes on Him, we still might not be able to get to those dishes and we still may feel like our lives are full to the top, but by His grace, strength and guidance we can see the beauty in the mess, we can prioritize and forgive ourselves, and at the end of the day we can rest knowing that our value does not rest in expectations and opinions and our life does not depend on completing that never ending to-do list.

1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen