Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.1
So, you can read a book, knit a sweater, and watch television while cooking a gourmet dinner. You think that is special? I can work on the computer while I burn my dinner! Seriously, though, we human beings are marvelous creatures.2 Multitasking is a word we hear bounced around everywhere today. A few years ago, we would have said, “What in the world is multitasking?” Words and phrases are coined almost every day, it seems. Words that meant one thing yesterday all of a sudden mean something entirely different today. You really do have to be careful how you speak.
Yes, multitasking is a relatively new word, but I am certain there have always people who could
do a number of things simultaneously with absolute ease. Most of us are capable of doing at least two things at the same time. We just do them so automatically we don’t realize we are doing more than one task. I used to be able to knit a sweater and read a book at the same time. I haven’t tried that for awhile. In fact, I haven’t knitted a sweater in a few years. I can talk on the phone and play spider solitaire on the computer. What an accomplishment! I can also do crossword puzzles while I watch TV. Not exactly a stellar accomplishment, but I like to keep my mind active. We all think and talk at the same time. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t make much sense.
As I think back on my childhood (a very long time ago), I could probably say that, at times, my father was a multitasker. Every weekend was, to him, a continuous smorgasbord of sports. He would watch a ball game on the TV– baseball or football depending on the season. The sound would be turned down because he didn’t like some particular sportscaster. But the radio would be broadcasting the same game with a different announcer, one acceptable to my dad. Then came advertising time on the TV. A perfect time to tune in to another game to see how those two teams were faring. (Those were the days before remote controls. You actually had to get up from your chair and walk to the TV.) As if this wasn’t enough to keep the brain operating, Dad would also be engrossed in reading the Sporting News! Of course, if Mom or I said something to him, our words couldn’t pierce the bubble in which he was temporarily living. Nothing else, at those times, existed for him but sports.
Then came Saturday night hockey. And somewhere in between was wrestling and boxing. Mom couldn’t stand to watch those hulks tangling with each other and trying to bash each other to pulp, so she would go out to the kitchen. I didn’t much like it either. But then, I didn’t like the baseball, football or hockey any better. In season we also saw (or heard if we chose not to stay in the same room with the TV) basketball and, occasionally, golf. The only thing I enjoyed was the Harlem Globetrotters. They were talented and worth watching. They were good entertainment. Still are, I believe.
On Sunday afternoons, in the good weather, we would go for a ride in the country. This would have been an idyllic experience had it not been for the invention of the car radio. The ball games traveled with us. The only problem was that once we got some distance from home, or passed under the hydro wires, the radio signal would fade in and out. There would be a lot of static. All I could distinguish was a great deal of noisy buzzing. Dad would fiddle with the dial. I would get anxious and hoped he was paying at least as much attention to the driving as he was to the radio. I don’t know how, but he seemed to know exactly what was happening in the game. I would much rather have listened to some good classical music. But my father was addicted to sports. Much better than alcohol though, I must say.
Well, as I said before, there have always been multitaskers around. They just never had a word to describe themselves all those years ago. They simply thought they were normal! Our God has created us with phenomenal abilities. Our brains have such tremendous capacity to acquire, contain and process information that they could only have been designed by a wonderful, loving God. We have been made in the image of God, and He has made His intelligence available to us. What potential there lies in the children of the living God!
I mentioned working on my computer and burning dinner. Yes, I really did that not long ago. Macaroni and cheese sounded like a good choice for dinner that night, so I boiled the water and added the elbow macaroni. Good start. Back to the computer to continue writing. The window was open. My nose began to pick up a new smell. Someone must be burning something, I thought. I continued to type away. Suddenly, something clicked in my brain! That someone was me and it was my macaroni that was burning! It had boiled dry, but, fortunately, most of it I was able to salvage. It was a little over-cooked, but, so what? Better than a complete loss. So into the casserole dish it went along with part of a can of mushroom soup and the cheese. Lots of grated old cheddar cheese. It was too early to put it in the oven, so back to the computer I went. Later I turned on the oven and put in the casserole. Back to the computer. Fortunately I had the common sense to put a cookie sheet under the dish, because by the time I remembered dinner again, it was just beginning to bubble over onto it. But I didn’t burn it! The next day I found the rest of the soup still in the can and sitting on the kitchen counter.
So much for multitasking. Think I’ll try one thing at a time from now on. Yes, I’ve said that before, too. It never happens. My mind is always running ahead of my body, thinking up what new project I can start while I have still only partly finished the other ten I’ve been working on. It’s like that with my reading habits, too. One day not long ago, I counted at least nine books that I had started and never finished. You’ll be glad to know that I have finished almost all of them now. Of course, I’ve started another eight or nine in their place. You know what they say: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I think I may be one of those old dogs. Guess I’ll just go on being me and doing things the way I have always done them.
Multitasking happens. I had better just accept it and go with the flow. Even when the flow gets a little clogged and misdirected. So for those of you who are successful multitaskers, more power to you. I admire you, but I’m not sure if I envy you. My brain can only stand so much confusion. I think I may be getting a little confused now, so I’ll just go and rest my poor brain for a while. Happy multitasking! Or maybe for you it’s uni-tasking. Thank the Lord He also enables us to concentrate on one task at a time. It is so much easier to finish what you start when you have a unified focus. Whichever, God made you the way you are, and He will bless you if you don’t spend all your time trying to be someone else. You be you and I’ll be me and we’ll all be fine, tasking or no tasking!
Thought for the day: Whether or not you are able to do several things at a time is not the issue. The important thing is that you do the tasks the Lord has set for you and finish the work He has called you to do.
Prayer: Lord, help us to focus on what You desire us to do each day. For those who are able to do several things at once, help them to be sure they are all necessary tasks. To be able to do three or four projects at the same time is not necessarily a good thing if some of those things do not need to be done. Help us to organize our time, to use the gifts you have given us, and to grow in the work You have destined for each one of us. May we not waste time with the dispensable to the detriment of the essential tasks You have assigned us. Help us to have discernment, Lord. Show us what You want us to do. Amen.
1 Colossians 3:23
2See Psalm 139:14
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