Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus


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Off kilter

When we get home from the grocery store, for some reason I find that it’s a contest to see how many plastic bags I can carry into the house to reduce the number of trips back and forth. It sounds great, in theory, to try to be more productive in my bag carrying, but there is always one bag with a glass jar of spaghetti sauce or pickles or something that ends up nearly spilling out onto the floor, and I have to do the one-handed dive in the end zone to keep it from hitting the ground.

We can live our lives the same way. I’m especially guilty of this. I take on too much at work, and then too many activities or responsibilities outside of work to fill in the extra time. It doesn’t take long to realize that life is out of balance, and I start to look for an escape from the busy time that I created.

Some escapes are innocent enough: too much TV watching or hanging out in the living room. At least that is an activity that I can enjoy with my family for the most part. Some become more addictive and destructive, like my obsession with video games. I have spent more time than I care to acknowledge in my adult life sitting in front of the TV being “entertained” until 2 AM trying to accomplish some sort of victory over an electronic device.

You know what a real victory over an electronic device is? Putting the thing down and leaving it there.

And then, there are even more destructive escapes I have attempted that I think are obvious but are better left unsaid.

I had another of those moments last night. I was multitasking: watching TV with my wife and playing a game on my laptop. She went to bed, which probably would have been a good cue for me to go to bed too, but I stayed up to continue with the TV and the laptop. When late night arrived, weariness hit me to go to bed. I’m not as young as I used to be, so being up past midnight these days is nearly like staying up 24 hours (like I used to do sometimes).

It finally hit me in the weariness this morning of trying to wake up. I’m sure God had been telling me this all along, but I ignored Him like the angel that sits on your shoulder in the cartoons. All I wanted to do was fulfill my needs for “relaxation” and “leisure” and “entertainment”, because I had earned it, right?

Go back to where I said before that I created the busy work that created the need for laziness (let’s call it what it really is). Feeding my laziness put my life out of balance. There was some need that I had at some point that my sin nature thought could be filled with laziness. Instead of running to God right away to fill that void, He was the last one I went to, and I didn’t come to Him until the deterioration of my physical condition was pointing out the deterioration of my spiritual condition.

Thankfully, nothing more was lost than a few hours sleep, but realizing that I needed to put God first this morning, I realized that time squandered away from God is not time you can get back.

I think men are more susceptible to this because the culture targets us. We are told by commercials that because we are breadwinners who work hard that we aren’t selfish enough to reward ourselves, we aren’t self-indulgent enough to give ourselves luxury, we aren’t lazy enough to give ourselves leisure, and we don’t hate our families enough to spend more time with our toys instead of building up our wives and our children. In the pursuit of their god, the almighty dollar, society wants us to be lazy, selfish boys who indulge their every whim instead of acting like men. Sounds productive, right?

Kind of reminds me of this guy in “Pinocchio” who hung around Pleasure Island smoking cigars and shooting pool all day…


Today has been a better day than most in comparison to the last couple of weeks. I hope that if you are struggling with an imbalanced life today that you will plant a stake in the ground for God, hold firm to it, and reorganize your life around Him.

All of life is far more boring than words could ever say. Our eyes and our ears are never satisfied with what we see and hear.—Ecclesiastes 1:8 (CEV)


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