One of the stories which followed my parents throughout their married lives is one which took place at a choir social. Mom had mixed a churn of ice cream and dad sat on the back porch in a large circle of men, churning and talking. Soon the circle began to thin as the churning got hard, showing that the ice cream was ready. But dad just kept on churning. Finally, everyone but dad was gone and he decided that something must be wrong with the ice cream in his churn. He opened up the cylinder and looked inside. All of the ingredients were there, but he and my mom had forgotten one little thing – the dasher. He could have churned all night and not had any ice cream. He was doing something – but he wasn’t accomplishing anything.
We can easily confuse being busy with being effective. Doing something for God is not the same as accomplishing something for God. We can churn all the time but accomplish nothing because we don’t have a dasher, a purpose. We cannot measure our Christian lives by how busy we are, but by what purpose is guiding our lives.
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is found in Mark 1:29-39. Jesus is in Capernaum where He has taught the people gathered at the synagogue. He has healed a man tormented by an evil spirit, Simon’s mother-in-law, and many others. The whole town gathered at His door for Him to touch them, to help them, to heal them. Jesus is literally surrounded with opportunities to do good. But listen to what happens next:
(Mark 1:35-38) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else-- to the nearby villages-- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."
Early the next morning, He gets away by Himself and prays. The disciples find Him and exclaim, “Everyone is looking for you! There is much to be done! You can be busy for the rest of the day!” But Jesus tells them that He will not go back to the good things He can do in Capernaum. Through prayer He has renewed His sense of purpose. He must walk away from the busyness of good things that He may do the most important thing – preaching the good news in other towns.
Jesus didn’t churn without a dasher. He knew the difference between busyness and living with a God-given purpose. So must we.