Craig Groeschel - Best Way to Avoid an Overwhelming Life
Little by little. Barely noticeable at first. We do a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a little bit more. And we get a little bit more efficient and we get a little bit more aggressive. And we take on a job, and another job, and some student loan debt, and a car payment, and a girlfriend who becomes a wife, who gives us a baby, who has diapers, and another baby, and more diapers, and preschool, and mother's day out, and soccer and dance and ballet, and braces, and more kids, and second job, and debt. And all of a sudden, we wake up one day and we feel overwhelmed.
And I wonder how many of you in your own way would say I always feel a little bit rushed, or anxious, or overwhelmed that all that I have to do and there's not enough hours in the day. And so if you're like me, we try to squeeze a little bit more. I try to become a little bit more efficient. I will analyze the lines in a grocery store. I'll analyze the potential capacity and speed of a car as I pull up to a light, trying to get behind the right one. I'm so busy I'll multitask in the bathroom. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Doing business while I'm doing business? Is this too real?
I'm just gonna talk to the real people today. And it's not just being rushed, but I wonder how many of you would also say occasionally or maybe even often, you're disappointed at the way your life's going. And because of the pace and because of the intensity, sometimes you start to think, "Is there something that's missing"? I have no time to do the things that I want to do. No time to do the things that I love. Or worse yet, I don't really even have time for the people that I love. And you might start to ask yourself, "Is life really supposed to be this way"? What if I told you that the greatest enemy to the life you want may be the life that you are living. Let me say it again. What if I told you that the greatest enemy to the life that you want may be the life that you're living.
Father, we pray that by the power of your spirit and the truth of your word, that you would speak to us in a way, God, that would lead us, not just to the truth of Jesus, but also empower us to live the way that Jesus lived and loved the way that Jesus loved. We pray in Jesus' name and all God's people said. Amen. Amen.
Confession. The message that I'm going to try to preach to you today is one of the most difficult messages for me to preach, because it is completely the opposite of the way that I live. In fact, you don't have to be around me for long to understand that I despise slow. I mean, I really do. Like, I hate it. It offends me. My staff will tell you like I don't understand coffee, standing. It makes me crazy. It really does. I know some of you like that stuff, but I don't understand it. Ugh, okay. I may have been the guy who said like "The devil doesn't take a day off, so neither do I". I'll slow down when I get to heaven, I may have said some things like that and meant it.
And I'm guessing and I'm hoping that most of you, at least many of you, are not as dysfunctional as I am, but I'm guessing that a lot of you are busier than you know that you should be. Because we got places to be, all of us. Jobs to do, bills to pay, kitchens to clean, kids to raise, news to read, bias news to read, to get really bad, yards to mow, dinner to cook, clothes to buy, clothes to wash, clothes to wash, clothes to wash, clothes to not wear, clothes to buy more clothes because you don't wear the clothes you got, photos to take, captions to write, soul numbing Netflix series to binge out on. And just because the pace of life is what it is, you find yourself going faster, and faster, and faster, and faster until you're sprinting and you realize I don't have time for some things I wish I had time for.
We don't really have time for meals with our family and we don't really have time for deep conversation with our friends. And we don't have time to rest, or reflect, or read, or really enjoy intimacy with our heavenly Father. We just don't have time. But a good news is neither does anybody else. So, it must be okay, right? Everybody else is busy, so that must be God's will, right? What if I told you that the greatest enemy to the life that you want may be the life that you're currently living. And that's why we're in a message series called the better way, a better way. We're not just looking at the truth of Jesus, which we always do and always will, but we're also examining the way that Jesus lived and the way that Jesus loved, the way that Jesus lived.
In fact, when you look at the gospels and take a step back, it's pretty fascinating to think about the way that Jesus lived. He had three years of ministry and that was it. Three years of kind of public ministry. And in those three years, He embraced the Father's mission. He recruited a heavenly team of 12 rag tags, trained them in kingdom values. He endured the hatred of the Pharisees. He resisted the temptation of the devil. He healed all sorts of sick people. He loved all sorts of hurting people. He preached the word of God fearlessly. He fulfilled 351 Old Testament prophecies and Jesus never once ran. When you read the gospels, there is no record of Him ever running, jogging, fast walking, skipping, sprinting.
Jesus was busy, but He was never rushed. He never said to His disciples, "Shoot, boys, were behind schedule. Come on, let's go. Pick up. Let's go. Come. Thomas' is late again, leave him behind. We're gonna teach him lesson. They need us in compartment, we gotta get there right now. He didn't". He was busy with important stuff, but He was never rushed on the inside. He never once ran. In fact, I'm gonna show you a phrase from Mark's gospel, Mark 2:14. And this is a phrase you can see over and over again in other gospels. And the phrase is this, Mark said this about Jesus. He said, "As Jesus," say it aloud with me. He said, "As Jesus," did what? "As Jesus walked along". "As Jesus," over and over again, "As Jesus walked along. As Jesus walked along, He saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus sitting at a tax collector's booth. And Jesus said to Him, 'Follow me.' And Levi got up and he followed Jesus".
I was thinking about Levi and it was fascinating to me. If Jesus was unrushed and Levi followed Jesus, he walked with Jesus, then Levi should have been living an unrushed life. And then, I thought about us. And I thought if we follow an unrushed Jesus, we should be living an unrushed life. But the way I live is very different from the way that Jesus lived. So if you find yourself on the treadmill and the pace has picked up beyond what you expected, and you're often rushed or stressed, or overwhelmed, or exhausted trying to get it all done, always falling short, Jesus invites you to come. He invites you to come to Him if you're worn out, if you're overwhelmed, if you're burdened and He will give you something that many of you have not experienced in a long time. He will give you a heavenly rest.
We looked last week at a text. I wanna revisit it again. We looked last week at Matthew 11, from the, "New International Version". I wanna read it to you today from a version known as, "The Message". To be clear, this is not a word for word translation. It's more of a devotional translation from a guy named Eugene Peterson and he translates it loosely this way. He asks the question, quoting loosely the words of Jesus, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion"? Jesus says, "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest". Then Jesus says this, He says, "Walk with me," not run, but "Walk with me and work with me". Do it at my pace. "Watch how I do it. Learn," I love this phrase, "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you". Jesus says, "Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly".
Jesus says get away with me and you'll recover your life. Walk with me, watch how I walk, watch how I love, watch how I live, and walk with me. Don't just believe what Jesus believed, do that, but also live the way Jesus lived. And I want you to just think about the way that He lived. He only lived for 33 years and He was called to be perfect and save the world. His mission was to give His life and He waited 30 years before He initiated a public ministry. It's fascinating to think about what Jesus did. He was baptized by God, the Father. Heaven opens up and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove. And the Father says, "This is my Son, whom I love; With Him, I'm well pleased". God affirms Him even before He publicly does any miracles.
And so, Jesus is commissioned to change the world. He's ready to go out and do what He was created to do. And what's the first thing He does? He takes a sabbatical. That's what He does. The Spirit leads them out into a dry place for 40 days. He calls out on the Father. He draws close to God. He's strengthened by God. Fights off the enemy. And His identity is solidified in who He is called to be. He takes 40 days to go be with God. Think about His first miracle. Where was it? It's interesting to me. It's at a wedding. Jesus like went to a wedding and He didn't like big time Him, like I'm the SOG. I'm the Son of God, gotta bounce. Okay. He didn't do that. He stayed till the very end. And then when they ran outta the party juice, He turned water into wine and said, let's just keep this thing going longer. Let's just enjoy each other.
One time, a synagogue leader came up to Him. His name was Jairus or something called him Jairus an important guy. And he's wigging out and freak out, "My little girl's dying. My baby girl's dying. You gotta come savor her". And Jesus's like, "I'll get there". And Jesus starts walking to go see this sick little girl. And as He's walking along, another woman stops Him, interrupts Him and is crying. She's been sick for 12 years. And as another little girl is dying, He gives this woman His undivided attention and heals her. And while He's taking His sweet loving time, the first girl dies and the dad's beside himself. And Jesus says "Time's in my hands". And He heals her anyway. I mean, it's crazy. You look at it all the way down to His transportation choice. He's the Son of God. If He's coming in on an animal, He can choose whatever one He wants. I'm Jesus. I'm on a horse. White one, fast one. He comes riding in on a donkey, a walking animal. There ain't no donkey in a rush. You never seen Eeyore or running red light, I promise you, okay.
As He walked. If Jesus wasn't rushed and we are called to follow Jesus, if Jesus wasn't rushed in His soul, why do you think we are? Why are we? I am just preacher, not a counselor, so I can't really say. But here's my guess based on a lot of pastoral ministry, My guess is if we really simplified it, most of us are rushed, overworked, pressure, pushing it because we're either running from something or we're running to something. Most of us.
Me, if I analyze, I'm probably running from insignificance and I'm running toward acceptance. I don't know what yours would be. You might be running from a past failure. You might be running from something said, someone said about you. You might be running from an insecurity that you're gonna overcome and prove them wrong. You're running from a hurt. You're running from abuse. Or you're running something. You got the goal, you got the vision. I'm gonna get married. Oh, he's gonna be so fine. He's gonna love Jesus. We're gonna get matching cross tattoos. We're gonna name our kids Elijah and Mary 'cause they're in the Bible. We're gonna have a dog and name him whatever. You're running towards success. You're running toward the image. You're running toward popularity. You're running toward fame. You're running toward being liked. You wanna be whatever it is you're accepted.
The problem is for most people in today's culture is you're chasing a life that will still leave you empty once you find it. What if the greatest enemy to the life that you want is actually the way that you're living right now. Always rushed. Always pressured. Some of you say, "You don't understand, preacher boy. Like I got a full time job. You're just a pastor. You just work on Sundays. I got a full time job or whatever. I don't have time. I literally can't get it all done. I can't slow down. There's too much moving". And I wanna say very respectfully to you that you have time for what you choose to have time for. You do. You have time. You have time for what you choose to have time for. And if I can get up in your business just a little bit, the solution is not more time. The solution is more of what matters most. It's more of what matters most.
And the reason why most of us don't have time for what matters is because we're mindlessly spending our life on what doesn't matter. And I'm gonna prove it to you. I could pick any number of different illustrations, but I've chosen three that are incredibly common. I'll show you up on our screen. First of all, social media. How many of you are involved in some form of social media? Raise up your hands, okay. Second one would be television. The third one would be video games. Let's start with social media. Did you know that the average person on social media, how much time do you think they spend a year? The average person in a year spends 706 hours per year. The good news is a lot of you are younger. You're above average, baby. You're way up there. You're way up there.
Now, how much time is that? To really understand, I like to do comparisons. And a traditional work day is usually about eight hours, correct? 706 hours on social media, if you divided that into just normal work days, that is approximately four and a half months of working hours that people spend on social media. You have time for what you choose to have time for. Television is a little worse. Over 2,700 hours binge watching the latest version of whatever your popular show is. Now, before we go to video games, I'm gonna pick on the guys. Gentlemen, if you're a gentleman, would you raise your hand? Even if you're not, if you're a male, raise your hand. Perfect. You don't have to be a gentleman, okay.
Now, I'm gonna pick on you but I do want you to know I'm guilty as charge. I grew up in kind of the more classic era of video games, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pac-Man, Gala, and such. You don't know what that is. You only know what it is. You wouldn't like it. And I could probably have paid for your college education and mine one quarter at a time. So, that's how I'm guilty. The average guy by the age of 21 spends about 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours by the age of 21, that shouldn't say per year. By the time you're 21, they spend about 10,000 hours on computer games. What can you do with 10,000 hours? I'll give you some options. One thing you can do at $10, now you can make a hundred grand. That's one thing. Another thing you can do is if you're an average reader, you can read about 2,000 books.
Another thing you can do at 10,000 hours, you can probably become a concert pianist. You can get your pilot's license. You can memorize the New Testament. You can get your undergraduate and graduate degree. Let's take it to relationships. You could possibly save your struggling marriage if you devoted that much energy to the person that you may be walking away from. You could possibly reconcile a relationship with a family member that's gone bad. And you could perhaps have the most intimate relationship with your children that you ever imagined if you'd put away whatever the stupid thing that you is doing and invested in them. You could have something that really matters or, or you can mindlessly waste your life on stuff that doesn't.
What if the greatest enemy to the life that you want is the life that you are living? So, what do I do now, Pastor Craig? And the answer is, I don't know, I'm struggling too. I don't know. I'm like working on this too. I'm like the guy who says by my hair, I used to be bald too. I'm the owner of the hair club, whatever it is. I'm a fellow struggler. What do I do? I don't know. What I'm not gonna do is I'm not gonna give you a lot to do. But what I am gonna do is tell you this that if you don't slow down, God may make you slow down. And that's what He did for me. I told you last week that I had a kind of a surprise surgery that put me on my bottom for extended period of time. And I had to face my ongoing addiction to work and adrenaline, and call it what it is. And I've said that before and I've gone on before, and now I'm getting serious about it. I went to the basics.
Who is God? And the answer, at its core, the best answer is God is love. It's not just what He does, but is who He is. What is the greatest command? Jesus said to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And to do what else? And to love your neighbor as yourself. At the core of all that God calls us is to love, to be loved by Him, to love Him, and to love people on behalf of His love. The challenge is, and John Mark Comer writes about this in his book, love is incompatible with hurry. And I'm always in a hurry. Love, the Bible says, Paul's first definitions, "Love is patient". Love takes time. Hurry doesn't have time. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna share with you a prayer that I've been praying. Just one prayer. And I'm gonna invite you and challenge you and maybe dare you, maybe double dog dare you, to pray this prayer.
Just first thing in the day, whatever that kind of looks like for you. You can even have your cup of coffee and pray it with your cup of coffee. And I'm gonna challenge you to do it for seven days, every day. Just pray this, mean it, sit in it, and then see what God does as you ask Him to do this. And the prayer is very simple. The prayer is this. God help me walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and love people deeply. God help me to walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and love people deeply. Would you mind just kind of saying that quietly wherever you're watching this today. Say, God, help me walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and to love people deeply.
One more time, just say it out loud. God help me walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and to love people deeply. What's gonna happen if you pray that prayer? Answer is I don't know for sure, but I will tell you what God's been doing in me. And it's a deep work. It's a real work and it's a healing work. The first thing that God has been doing in me is he's been teaching me to be present in the moment. I'm starting to recognize that I'm often there physically, but not there mentally. And as I'm praying this prayer, I'm engaging with my children and leaving my phone to the side. I am listening to people, when oftentimes my mind would be spending away. I'm seeing needs in the lives of people that I often was too busy to see. And I'm actually entering into the joy of hurting with people. And there's a sense of fulfillment in celebrating with those who celebrate and grieving with those who grieve. There's something rich about that. It's helping me to be present in the moment.
Second thing is it's helping me to choose what's important and to eliminate what's not. As I'm asking God to lead my steps and to help me to walk slowly, suddenly I'm just more aware that picking up my phone to look at something is not nearly as important as a person who's in front of me. It's helping me say no to what doesn't matter and yes to what does. And there's a lot of things that I end up drifting toward that really don't matter much. And here's what you might find and let me just say this clearly. You may say no to some good things right now to say yes to some better things. But just because you say no right now, doesn't mean you have to say no forever. It may be no for now, but not... You may like, love, I don't know, hot yoga or gardening or playing on the softball team or whatever, but you got three babies and diapers.
And so, you may have a no for now, but it's not a no forever. It's just in this season, there's something more important. You have time for what you choose to have time for. The solution is not more time. The solution is more of what matters. This prayer, it's helping me to be present in the moment to choose what's most important, to eliminate what's not. And most importantly to me is it's helping me to sense God's presence and recognize His voice. It's helping me to see Him working in places that I was too busy to notice. He's prompting me to ask an additional question when I'm with somebody. Not ending the conversation, but digging just a little bit deeper. He's prompting me to pray more with people and not feel like I'm your pastor, so can I pray? But I'm the, I'm your friend, can I pray? He's taken me to a different level.
And here's what I've noticed as I'm walking slower with Jesus and He's helping me love Him and experience Him and love people, I'm noticing that I'm starting to become just a little bit more like Him. Because think about this if you will. As Jesus walked along, as Jesus walked along, every person that Jesus loved and every miracle that Jesus performed, He did as He walked. As He walked along, God used Him. And so my invitation for you to join me, join Amy seven days parade and see what happens every day. God helped me to walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and to love people deeply. And here's what's so interesting. As Jesus walked, all of His ministry, all of His life, following the will of the Father, where was Jesus walking? Jesus was always walking toward the cross. Day after day, step after step, moment after moment, He was fulfilling God's calling for Him and expressing the deepest and most profound love for you. He was walking toward the cross.
And so when we know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, we don't just embrace the truth that He taught, but we also live and love the way that Jesus lived and the way that He loved. And as I learned to walk with Jesus, I'm becoming more like Jesus. And imagine if in a angry and hurting and divided world, if there was a loving, caring, and united church, walking slowly enough to engage with those who are far from God, to show the love of a God who stepped out of heaven and came to earth in the person of His perfect and sinless Son, Jesus, who day after day, walked toward the cross to give His life for you. If you're following Jesus, guess where you're walking? You're walking to lay down your life for something so much more important. The answer's not more time. It's more of what matters. You have time for what you choose to have time for.
So, God help me walk slowly enough to experience Jesus fully and to love people deeply. And Father, we asked that you would do that work in the hearts of your church.
As you continue praying today, online or at all of our churches, those of you who would say, "Yeah, I'm overwhelmed. I'm stressed. I don't have the most time". I'm just gonna invite you to come to Jesus and invite you just to pray that prayer with me this week. If you would just commit, our pastors will actually give you this prayer and tell you specifically how to get it and keep it with you and to pray this prayer. If you'll commit just to do that seven days, let's just see what God does.
God just help us to slow down. To walk with you slowly enough, to love you fully, to love people deeply.
If you'll pray that with me over the next week, would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift up your hands. If you're watching online, you can type it in the chat I'm in, I'll be praying, whatever it is, just type it in the chat and let us know as well, I'll be praying as well.
Father, I am thank you in advance for all the different ways we're going to see you. And for all the different ways we will enjoy what matters most as you lead our steps, as you direct us. God help us to walk with you, to be willing to be interrupted by you, to see needs and people and feel joy that we might have the opportunity and honor of helping me to need. And God even being blessed as we're a blessing to others. We thank you, God, there might be healing. There might be reprioritizing. God, we pray that your truth would sink deep within our hearts that we have time to do what you've called us to do. God help us to choose what matters most. Help us to love you, to love your people, as we're loved by you.
As you keep praying today, nobody looking around. Let me ask you again. What if the greatest enemy to the life that you want is the life that you're living? There are some of you right now, if I can just talk to a few different groups of people, some of you're like you're not a religious person. You're not really a church person. And you've been trying everything, haven't you? Maybe this relationship will make me happy. Maybe that relationship, maybe this job, maybe that job, maybe this much money, that much money, this house, that house, these countertops, those countertops, this car, that car, these shoes, those shoes, this city, that city, this thrill, this experience and you continue to come up empty. Why? Maybe it's because you're trying to shape a God-shaped void with something that is not God. Maybe it's because you're a spiritual being created by God to know His goodness and nothing in this world will satisfy but Jesus. Maybe you're like a church person like I was growing up and you're trying to find meaning in religion and you're trying to do good works, and you still come up short. Maybe it's because you're trying to find meaning in the things you do instead of the God who created you.
At all of our churches today or wherever you're watching, if you recognize there is something missing, you're longing for something more. Maybe it's that your sin has separated you from a relationship with God. And when you step into the fullness of what God has for you, Jesus is the way. He is the way to the Father. He is the truth and the truth that sets you free. And the way and the truth leads you to the life that God wants you to have. It is a life more abundantly. It is a gift from God. If you don't have it and you want it, I would encourage you, step away from your sin. Step toward God. When you call in the name of Jesus, He hears your prayers. He forgives your sins. He makes you brand new.
You're here today, you're watching today because this is your moment. This is your time. You need something different. There's a better way. There's a better way. His name is Jesus. He is the Son of God. When you call out to Him, He hears your prayers. Your past is forgiven and you become new today. Wherever you are, you say I want it. I need His forgiveness. I want His grace. Today, I surrender my life. I give it to Jesus. That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now all over the place. Say yes, I lift them up. We see hands going up all over the place right here. Praise God for you. Right over here as well. Wow, wow, wow, wow. Church online, YouTube, just type in the chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus. And as we have people today all over the world, surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, where you pray with those around you, nobody prays alone. Pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus saved me. Be first in my life. Fill me with your spirit. So, I could know you. And serve you. And follow you. For the rest of my life. Lead me in your ways. To love like you love. And live like you live. In Jesus name, I pray.