I think it began as more of a computer term. The breakthrough capability of processing machines to go beyond “single thread” computing to “multitasking.” It was a game changer when computers could not only do calculations at lightning speeds, but could also execute more than one program simultaneously. And while the thought in the beginning was that these computers would give back time to their human operators, in fact what we’ve found is that we’ve wanted to become more like the machines. And so we started talking about multitasking as an attribute of a highly effective person.
We praise those who can “keep many balls in the air.” We marvel at those who can “time slice” their lives and sustain progress on many fronts. But it’s also what causes many to pursue something called “work / life balance” . . . and can often result in someone “burning out.”
Something I read in Psalm 86 has me rethinking the value of multitasking. Maybe we need to be more like David. A guy who also had “a lot on his plate” yet desired a united heart.
For You are great and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in Your truth;
unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psalm 86:10-11 ESV)
Psalm 86 is a prayer of David. It seems, one of those 911 types of prayer that are fired heavenward in times of trouble. But a prayer which is liberally seasoned with praise. The wonder of God not overshadowed by the worry of the situation. The grace of God not lost in the grind of the trial. The steadfast love of God not forgotten under the suppressing load of the burden. And within this prayer is a petition for a united heart.
Teach me Your ways, O LORD . . . not that I might just gain head knowledge, but that I might walk in the light of the truth. And Lord, not only teach me that I might walk, but unite my heart that I might fear. That I would honor and respect Your name . . . that I might know holy reverence as I reflect on who You are.
Unite my heart . . . cease the multitasking and let it wholly and fully become focused toward this one great purpose, that I would stand in awe of You.
Multitasking might be valuable in many areas of life, but not so much when it comes to worship. Whatever productivity we think we might gain by splitting our hearts affections, is no gain at all. Though we might think that the more we can keep going, the better life will be, it’s not true if it is to the detriment of a heart united by a single purpose — that of knowing, and responding, to the God who created us and then gave His Son that He might redeem us.
Multitasking. Great for computers. Maybe not so great for human hearts.
Unite my heart, O Lord, to fear Your name.
By Your grace . . . for Your glory.