5.01.2016

The Idolatry of Productivity

http://www.dashinthemiddle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/be-still-and-know-that-I-am-God.jpgI hate being sick.  In addition to feeling awful, it saps my energy, keeps me from being able to exercise, and throws off my whole routine.  No matter how hard I try to get the rest and fluids and meds I need when I'm ill, I'm usually down for the count for a week; still haven't figured out how to preempt, short-circuit, or cheat things.  I've learned that my body just needs time and I should stop being a baby about my symptoms, so now when I'm sick I still gut out work, do my share around the house, and even work in some workouts.  But I know I'm at less than full strength, and every time this happens it is another test of whether I am OK with that, which is a pretty important life lesson for this person of faith.  Amy rolls her eyes because I dutifully call out Psalm 119:71 to her in these "trials" - "It was good that I was afflicted, that I may learn His statutes" - eye-roll-inducing behavior because the sniffles can hardly be considered a trial and because I'm just so wimpy and predictable.

Healing from heart surgery is different.  I don't actually feel that bad.  My throat's pretty shot from having a tube down it and the meds make me feel a little off, but other than that I don't feel debilitated in any way.  But I still have to throttle down to let my heart heal, and now I have to do it without my body telling me it can't go.  I probably could pick up Asher.  I probably could go into work tomorrow.  I probably could go for a run.  But I'm not supposed to.  Most people take off of work for a week, and I'm forbidden from lifting anything heavy for a week and from any kind of exercise for a month.

When I'm sick, my symptoms help me throttle down.  Recovering from heart surgery, I don't have much to steer me away from exercising, helping out around the house, or pushing myself back to work.  I have to choose rest instead of being forced into it.  And, to be honest, it's been a struggle.

In the Old Testament, there is a lot of talk about God commanding His people to not have idols.  We think of idols as totems of false gods, and they are.  But those false gods don't have to be Ashtoreth or Baal or Molech.  They can also be Vanity and Money and, yes, even Productivity.  An idol is anything that isn't God that we lean on, depend on, or identified by that in doing so we place higher than God.  And a sure way to identify if something is an idol in your life is to have it yanked out of your life for a season and watch yourself feeling unmoored and devalued and cranky as a result.

So this healing season is another affliction that I may learn His statutes.  An opportunity to choose rest and be OK with not being able to pick up Asher or go for a run or get work stuff done.  I know that all of those responsibilities are from God and I take joy in them and I look forward to getting back to them.  But God doesn't need me to get them done, and He doesn't need me to do them in order to earn His favor.  So while I am disallowed, those tasks will wait, and I will until then take the time to absorb the lesson that none of them define me as a person of worth.  Productivity is a good thing, but it need not be my idol.
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