By Robin Sam
“And while your servant was busy here and there, he was gone” (1 Kings 20:40).
AN UNNAMED PROPHET who went in a disguise before King Ahab of Israel gave him a piece of fiction about how a man came to him with another one and asked him to keep him in safe custody. The prophet had to guard the man diligently and if he escaped, the prophet’s life shall be taken for the captive’s life, he was told.
The prophet said: “And while your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” Yes, the prophet had a job to do, an important one at that. But instead of attending to the important task on hand, he was engaged in other things. And as a result, the captive gave him the slip. Now, his life was at stake.
King Ahab heard out the prophet and said: “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” At which point, the prophet removed his disguise and revealed his identity to the king. The story, he told the king, was about the king himself. The man who was busy here and there was the king himself and the captive who slipped away was none other than Ben-Hadad, the Syrian king whom Ahab had defeated not once but twice but never annihilated. | What exactly was King Ahab’s wrongdoing? | Why does God not give us specific instructions at times?|
And, thus began one of the most important lessons Ahab would learn in his life. To defeat the enemy is to annihilate him totally. If you were to wound him and let him go scot-free your life, your very life, is at stake.
Dear child of God, what’s the one area in your life where you are constantly slipping? You have won the battle many times over but the enemy is still at large. Do you know if that is the case, the enemy will have the last laugh? In your spiritual life, there are areas where you have triumphed over the enemy, but then there are a few secret corners of your life where the enemy is still lurking with a dagger behind his back to get you. You know it, the enemy knows it and God Almighty knows it too. Do you know why you have not vanquished the enemy yet in those secret corners of your life? Of late, you have been busy here and there….You have been postponing the most important thing in your life – encountering the enemy and vanquishing him for good.
BUSY is a four-letter word, and God hates it. Being busy does not mean you are fruitful. You are telling yourself and others that you are engaged in the Lord’s ministry. To all those who call up to enquire your wellbeing, you say you’re busy. Being busy does not mean you are productive. Being busy does not mean you’re being profitable in the Lord’s service. Sometimes, we use certain words without really understanding what they mean or stand for. BUSY is one such word. It’s a useless word. It may make you feel good to think that you are busy, but wait a minute: Is that God’s plan and direction for your life? Did God bring you into the world to be busy?
I know God’s servants who were once used mightily by the Lord that have gone away from their calling. Do you know what their problem was? When they became useful to the Lord, they also became famous. They became much sought-after for their wisdom and words of anointing. They soon started accepting every assignment that came their way. They soon started sitting on one too many board meetings. They became jetsetters, traveling here and there not realizing all the busy-ness was taking a toll on their spiritual life. They had become too busy that they could not pray anymore as they did earlier. They had become too busy that they did not hear the voice of the Lord any longer. The time they spent earlier in the presence of the Lord, reading up on His Word and meditating it and talking to Him, was now being spent to cater to the needs of the world. Don’t get me wrong. Ministry is about catering to the needs of the world, but that’s not all. Ministry is about pleasing the Lord, first and foremost.
Both Martha and Mary loved the Lord but while Martha took the route of serving to please the Lord, Mary offered herself to sweetly commune with the Lord. Which approach, do you think, did the Lord appreciate?
Luke 10:40-42 say: But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus did not slight Martha’s ministrations but found out that while she ministered she was also worried and troubled about many things. Martha’s ministry itself became a source of distraction to her, but Mary’s sweet communion with the Lord was not broken by anything.
There are families I know where the husband is too busy at his work or in his business that he has started neglecting his wife, children and parents. And, the strain is telling on the family. They may have every material need that you can possibly think of, but then the family is falling apart.
Dear child of God, you were not created to be busy. You were created to be fruitful. Let’s get this straight.
What was the prophet’s supposed failure? He was busy, and that’s only one aspect of it. He was ‘here and there’.
When the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord one day, Satan also came among them. And the Lord asked Satan where he was coming from? And, what was Satan’s answer? Job 2:2 says that Satan answered and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’
I know some youngsters in Christian families who don’t like staying up in their homes. Whenever you visit their homes, the youngsters are always out. Ask their parents where their children are and you get a stock reply: ‘Oh, they’re out with their friends.’ The parents should be worried about the fact that their children are out of their homes and roaming here and there. Going to and fro is the Satan’s job, don’t make it yours. Let it not be your children’s task either.
I want to bring another instance from the Bible to highlight the uselessness of being busy, the utter unproductiveness of going here and there; to and fro.
After it had rained for 40 days and nights, Noah opened the window of the ark to check out the landscape. All he saw was water, water everywhere. Genesis 8:7 says, ‘Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.’ What did the raven do? It kept going to and fro! For how long? Until the waters had dried up. Noah sent out the raven on a mission. It was on a fact-finding mission but it offered no clue about what was going on earth; the only thing it did was it kept going to and fro. Because, there was no news from the raven Noah also sent out a dove.
Genesis 8:9 says, ‘But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth.’
The raven was sent out much before the dove. While the dove found out that she could not rest anywhere on earth, she returned to the ark. What was the raven doing then? The conditions that applied to the dove applied to the raven as well. But the raven kept going and to and fro.
Noah sent out the dove after seven days and this time it brought back a freshly plucked olive leaf. Another seven days later, Noah sent the dove out again. And this time, she did not return anymore.
Each time the dove came back to the ark it had a message for Noah, her master. The first time, she conveyed to the master that flood waters had still not receded. The second time, she brought an olive leaf in the evening and by that Noah knew that waters had receded somewhere and vegetation was springing up. The third time, she did not come back and that was her message to Noah: It was safe to disembark the ark now. What does that tell you about the dove? She knew her master and she knew the task given to her. She was faithful to her master.
But all this while, the raven kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. What does that tell you about the raven? It put self above service. The raven knew that it could not find a place to rest the sole of its foot, yet it kept going back and forth.
Do you want to live your life like the raven or the dove? Do you know the purpose for which the Master has created you? Do you know the Master wants you to live for Him? Will you live like the raven or the dove?
A person who goes back and forth is a double-minded person. He gains nothing in his life, does nothing concrete in his life and contributes neither to the world nor to the Lord because he vacillates.
James 1:8 says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. He is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. He will get nothing from the Lord, says the Bible.
We’re living in the last days. In the last days, God warns us that a famine will come upon the world. This famine is a famine of the Word of God. In those days, the Bible says in Amos 8:12, ‘They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.’
Dear child of God, we are dangerously close to the time prophesied in Amos. Store up the Word of God in your heart while there is yet time.
The Scriptures indicate that another time will come before the time of the famine of the Word of God. I believe we are already in that time.
In Daniel 12:4, God told the prophet, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
We’re living in the time of the end when travel across seas and between continents has increased manifold. World air travel industry has reported robust growth and predicted huge growth in the next 10 years. Knowledge is also increasing by the day. Everything that you need to know and more is accessible in the palm of your hand. With one tap and one swipe you can read up and store up a lot of information. Truly, we’re living in the days when knowledge has increased.
If the time we’re living in is the time foretold in Daniel 12:4, then coming up next is the time prophesied in Amos 8:12.
If all these prophecies have left you wondering what to do, I urge you to take the route Mary took to please the Lord. Choose the path of sweet communion before you take the path of service to the Lord and the world.
Fresh after their exploits in their mission fields when the disciples returned to Jesus Christ and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught, the Lord told them: “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Why did Jesus respond that way? Did He not like what His disciples did and taught. No, far from it.
Mark 6:32 says, ‘For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.’
Just as Jesus knew where His disciples will have the time and the space to have their food in quiet, Jesus knows where you will get your spiritual food. Food for our soul is found only in the Lord’s presence. The Psalmist says in Psalm 16:11, ‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ Amen!