From Gotta to Getta

I need to confess that I tend to feel pretty hard done by, sometimes.

My life is busy with work and ministry and family (all too often in that order, unfortunately), and I don’t have much time for me. The list of chores on my to-do list is long, so I tend to suffer from The Gottas.

deerfoot traffic

Deerfoot Trail, Calgary’s main north-south artery, is often a freeway in name only.

Gotta cook. Gotta clean. Gotta plan supper menus for the week. Gotta buy groceries. Gotta drive Deerfoot to work. Gotta TCB at work. Gotta drive Deerfoot home. Gotta go to band practice. Gotta practise my guitar. Gotta blog. Gotta  make time for Bible study. Gotta make time for my kids. Gotta make time for extended family.  Gotta walk the dogs. Gotta clean the cat box. Gotta cut the grass/shovel the driveway. Gotta exercise. Gotta pray. Gotta rest.

As Greg Kinnear’s character quips in As Good As it Gets, sometimes I get tired of my own complaints.

(Imagine how we feel, Baldy!)

Touche, reader(s).

Now, some of these gottas are bona fide chores; others are really wannas, but since there are so many gottas cluttering up the calendar and I don’t want the wannas to fall off the to-do list, I categorize the wannas as gottas so they don’t become optional and fall by the wayside (much). The problem with this approach is that a wanna that’s classified as a gotta tends to feel a lot like a gotta after a while.

Atlas_Santiago_Toural_GFDL

Related to Matthew 11:28-30, I once heard a preacher say that if your faith makes you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re doing it wrong. Probably true, but not particularly helpful…

“Gotta rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say gotta rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4 (KJV) – (gottas mine)

It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (Boldface mine)

‘I’d have plenty of time to live the Christian life if I weren’t so busy living the Christian life,’ I’ve often muttered to myself. All I need to do to find the time I need for proper exercise and rest on the Sabbath is give up all of my church-related extra-curricular activities.

Then I imagine what my life under those circumstances would look like: My belly would be smaller, but so would my heart, I think. As the Apostle Peter put it in John 6:68-69, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

There’s definitely room for some trimming of my ministry activities here and there, but in general, my life is this way because this is how I want to live in response to what Jesus has done for me (until I win the lottery and can quit my day job, at least).

Letting the dog poop pile up in the backyard and the dishes pile up in the sink is not an option. And neither is leaving the blogging and worship music to someone else – not if I want to authentically live into what I think Jesus has in mind for me.

So busyness will continue to be part of my business for the next little while, it seems.

But that doesn’t mean I gotta live with The Gottas. If I let Him, Jesus can help me turn them into Gettas.

This entire post is sort of an extrapolation of a message given by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few weeks ago. In Part 5 of his sermon series (This is Your) Permission Slip, He challenged his congregation to move out of the offering plate mindset of ‘got-to-give’ and instead embrace a ‘get-to-give’ attitude.

“This isn’t a got-to-give church, where you got to give or we won’t be able to feed these starving Guatemalan orphans, or we won’t be able to fix this leaky roof. … It’s also not a give-to-get church where God is a a celestial vending machine where you put in this and get out that.

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

“This is a get-to-give church, where it’s a blessing to give. You get to give, you don’t got to. You’re not gonna go to hell if you don’t give. We won’t kick you out next week. There’s no cover charge – this isn’t a country club where we’re going to come after you for your dues.

“I’m proud to give. I’m thankful to do it. I love to do it. It’s not about what God wants from me, it’s about what He wants for me. He’s a good God, and this is your permission slip to experience His goodness!

“Giving isn’t an obligation, it’s an opportunity!”

Similarly, every gotta can be a getta, if you look at it right.

It’s easy with the wannas I turn into gottas, of course. But it even works for the actual gottas. Here are a few examples:

  • Other than the fact this guy is wearing a tie, to clean the crapper, this could be me.

    Other than the fact this guy is wearing a tie, to clean the crapper, this could be me.

    I getta clean my house. I’m healthy and strong, and I have the time to do it. What’s more, I get to make sure it’s cleaned to my standards (such as they are), and while I’m scrubbing and vacuuming, I get to listen to sermons (delivered by pastors like Steven Furtick) while I do it. When else would I have that much time where my intellect and spirit (such as they are) aren’t being taxed heavily, and can therefore be devoted to study?

  • I getta drive 35 kilometres of Deerfoot Trail twice very day because I get to live in a great neighborhood near a great church on one end of the city, and I get to do a job I like for a great company located on the other end. As long as I work in the communication industry, I wouldn’t trade either of these realities for any of the alternatives, so the commute is actually a blessing.
  • I getta do the grocery shopping for my family. This is a getta because having the money to buy what we want and need is not a problem for us, unlike many families. I also getta drive a very short distance to a large, safe, well-equipped grocery store – unlike many people across the world who wish their biggest problem was that they had to spend a couple of hours fighting crowds at the local stupormarket. Furthermore, each trip to the Sillystore is chock full of tiny opportunities to be Jesus to total strangers, even without their knowledge. Letting this woman go ahead of me in a shopping cart traffic jam, making googly faces to cheer up that bored toddler, choosing to notice people and intentionally remind myself that God made each of them in His image and loves them as much as He loves me, and saying a quick ‘God bless that guy’ prayer in my head for each of them. Even if you’re like me and you fail to respond to 90% of these invitations during a given grocery excursion, you’re still way ahead of where you’d been if you’d stayed on the couch.Laundry
  • I getta do laundry … Hmm. I’ll try to get back to you on this one. 😉

Peace be with you.

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About robpetkau

Communications professional by day, amateur musician by night, worship leader (at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary) on weekends and aspiring Bible teacher in my dreams. Grateful husband to the woman who completes me. Doing-the-best-I-can dad to the son and daughter who keep me on my toes. Striving disciple of the GodMan who came, taught and died for me. Thanks for stopping by!
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