Have you ever put your suitcase on the scale at the airport and discovered it was overweight?
I recently helped my daughter and her husband pack for an overseas move. The airline allowed two checked bags each weighing less than 50 pounds. Even half a pound over the limit would cost them dearly.
As they prepared to fill their suitcases, they made three piles—Yes, No, and Maybe.
In the Yes pile they put necessities—clothing, personal care items, and important paperwork.
In the No pile they put the non-essentials—books they weren’t really interested in reading, older clothes they didn’t wear any more, and a game they had never played.
In the Maybe pile they put items they liked, but weren’t vital to day-to-day living—a souvenir coffee mug, decorative tableware, and some food items.
They packed the important items in the suitcases first and filled most of the space, then they filled in the remaining space with items from the Maybe pile. The No pile went straight to the trashcan.
My days are very similar to my kids’ suitcases. And I’ve realized I can use the same principles they applied to their suitcases to help me decide how to spend them.
First, I can only cram so much into a day before I get into trouble. Overfilling my calendar is always counter-productive. It guarantees I’ll eventually crash and burn. Exhaustion, frustration, and inefficiency are common side effects of overloaded days.
Second, I must choose wisely what I put into a day. Some activities, like reading my Bible, caring for my family, working, and attending church, are vital. I can include other activities, like talking with a friend, surfing the Internet, or reading a book after I’ve completed my most important responsibilities. Other pursuits are simply time wasters I’d be better off tossing aside.
Third, sometimes, despite my best efforts, my days become overweight.
When my kids were packing their suitcases, they knew it would be wise to check the weight before we got to the airport. I pulled out the bathroom scale, and, as we suspected, the biggest suitcase was seriously overweight.
“I guess we’re going to have to leave some stuff behind,” my son-in-law said. He removed a few of the Maybe items, but it was still too heavy.
“Why don’t we try to redistribute the weight?” I suggested. We pulled a few books out of the suitcase and exchanged them for clothing and shoes from a less full suitcase. When we weighed the heaviest suitcase again, we were delighted to find it was a few pounds lighter. The true test, however, would come at the airport.
Some of my days resemble my son-in-law’s suitcase. In order to be able to manage them, I must remove some things altogether and redistribute others. The litmus test I use to determine what has to go comes from Oswald Chambers: “The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.” It’s easy to fill my days with good things, but when the good things begin to crowd out the best things, I know it’s time to reevaluate and reorder my priorities.
When I pray, God shows me what to remove and what to consider delegating to someone else. This frees me up to spend my time on what’s best in my life right now—the tasks God has called me and only me to do.
Now back to the luggage. When our turn came at the baggage counter, my son-in-law hoisted the biggest suitcase on the scale, and we held our collective breath. For a few seconds the red numbers jumped around—51.2, then 49.8, then 50.9. Finally it blinked three times and was still—50.0!
Whew! Not an ounce to spare. Our happy smiles and high fives made the ticket agent grin as she slapped a sticker around the handle and waved us on.
What about you? Are your days overloaded? Or perhaps you’ve filled them with good things that are squeezing out the best God has for you. Prayerfully ask the Lord to help you evaluate how you’re filling your days. Commit to make the necessary changes, and live each day seeking God’s best.