It’s Good Friday again, and I’m on a working retreat in lovely seaside Baja California. And there is so much to do! Sadly, as I get older, my ambitious punch lists have become only 50% doable–if that.

Ambition is pride’s pressure that deceives us all into believing that doing equals being. This “doing” is that monkey on our backs that our false self sells to us and others as a virtue. It is not. The world of busy ministers, executives, and soccer moms drives our souls. But our Creator is NOT that driver. His nature is quite the opposite.

Father Henri Nouwen died in 1996. In 1990 I discovered him on one of my annual retreats. Since then, he has been a pastor and mentor-from-a-distance for me. He had this same daily struggle with productivity until, in 1985, he gave up the accolades and Ego’s twin taskmaster (named  Compete, and Do More), and joined the obscure L’Arche community, dedicating his best years to creating and joining a community with severely disabled and mentally challenged adults.

These men and women could not benefit from any of his 30-odd best-selling books. Nor his mastery of integrating biblical and psychological faith. He had to learn their language and respond to them as a child–and father, not the scholar or Harvard Head of their Divinity School.

This week, reading his epic book “The Return of the Prodigal” and this beautiful biographical video (link below) have found me resting in what I can do and releasing God’s power and Spirit to do the rest. If it is enough for my Abba Father, it will have to be enough for those I love and serve.

Steven Covey’s Habit #3, from the 7 Habits of Effective People, says, “Do the First Things First.” For me, that means that I begin each day in silence, ruminating on His Word (the Bible) and opening the door of my very messy and selfish life to welcome Jesus in. Here is where we I can listen and feast on the Bread of Life together.

Most of my adult years have been marked by the self-affliction of various stressors–each with its own agenda of grandiosity. The white noise of meaningless, time-killing ego inflation and (in my own mind) superhuman productivity. How much more urgent is today with the all-so-important non-profit work that I do!

“I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the doorI will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”                                             — Jesus, Revelation 3:20

I almost became permanently deafened from hearing his tap-tap-tap at the door to my soul. For decades I referred to myself as a disciple of Jesus, but when the physical exhaustion of my own ball and chain became too much, I more often found rest from a drink(s) and meaningless entertainment!

“The Lord is my Shepherd; therefore I shall not want . . .He MAKES me lie down in green pastures, fills me,” and cleanses my heart and mind with living waters, thereby restoring my soul…” Psalm 23

Good Friday begins the busiest production weekend of the Church calendar–where church staff–having prepared and worked longer hours for weeks–will be thoroughly wrung out and washed up on the shores this Monday morning.

Why not take this day of contemplation and remembrance to drill into these three questions:

1. How long has it been since you lost your first love with Jesus?

2. Is your preoccupation with busyness (like right now!) simply a means to avoid your fears that your Father in Heaven is disappointed–even angry with you? Is your frenetic stress-filled (and sometimes medicated) life your way of avoiding some pending, imagined punishment?

3. Are you waiting more time to earn his “well done” before you check in?

Maybe your road less traveled is NOT the Narrow Way Jesus called us to, but instead, it has been a path of grit, power, and accolade, legacy, or the worship of your grandchildren. Maybe this note is the turnout in front of you–where you suspend your over-busyness, toss your punch list, and pull over for a few hours or longer, and prick up your ears to hear His knocking. Good Friday and Easter are all about Jesus. Listen as He whispers, “Let me in, my Beloved one, let’s spend some quality time together as friends”

Watch Henri’s powerful Bio film