My last several days have not gone as planned. Do you ever have that?
I know you know what I’m saying. I see your hands raised. I hear you shout, “Same!”
You lay out your plans; you create your to-do lists, you set your schedules, and get everything in order to make it all past-tense…and then—
For me, “life” came in the form of being sick.
I hate being sick! It’s such a waste of time. It robs me of productivity and steals my joy. So as I felt those well-known sensations rise-up over the last week, I ignored them.
I had too much to do! My lists were long, but I was attacking them like a boss. The demands were accumulating, but I was taking them down one-by-one. And I was determined to beat this illness. My sassy-self defiantly cried out, “Ain’t nobody got time for this!” when out of nowhere came the left-hook.
And I was K.O.’d.
As I laid in bed, I had time to come to terms with how I ended up in my current reality.
I knew I allowed my body to drain, to get run-down. But I refused to slow down. I knew I wasn’t sleeping well. But I was determined to push forward anyway. I knew I wasn’t staying hydrated. But I continued to drink too much coffee to compensate for my weariness.
And I knew I wasn’t taking time to rest.
I don’t mean sleep, I mean rest. I mean those little pockets of time to be still during the day to give your mind and body a break before heading to the next thing.
The truth is, I eliminated rest from my schedule so I could be more “productive.” However, in the end, I wasn’t productive at all—I was sick.
In my irritation, I whined and felt sorry for myself.
Then I felt The Nudge. You know the one, it’s usually accompanied with, “Now that I have your attention, let’s talk—or better yet you keep it shut and listen, and I’ll talk.”
So in the stillness of my bedroom, I opened my heart to Jesus. Honestly, I didn’t have the energy to fight with Him or argue. Nor did I have the desire; I knew I needed to hear what he had to say. As I prayed, I opened one of my favorite Bible sites, http://www.openbible.info/topics/, and typed “rest” into the search bar. Then the power of His Word washed over me.
‘Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.’
Baby, are you listening to Me? Focus on what I’ve given you to do. Don’t waste your energy, time, or resources.
‘The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses [Cheyenne/your name], and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”’ Exodus 33:14
I will be with you, Baby. Follow me. I will give you everything you need to accomplish what I’ve called you to do—and I will provide you with rest.
‘Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”’ Matthew 11:28-30
Baby, you’re carrying more than necessary. You are taking on more than I’ve given you. Time to reevaluate where you are spending your time and energy.
This is where I stopped. Where I pondered. Where I meditated.
Matthew 11:28-30 has been a passage of encouragement for countless people over the centuries, including me. It acknowledges life is hard and its burdens are weighty. But it also offers freedom from the weight of those burdens.
Some of our burdens, such as sin and estrangement from God, are eradicated with sincere confession and repentance. While others, such as expectations of others; persecution; harassment; demands of teachers, coaches, or bosses are still with us but are made easier to endure.
This beautiful truth is what my mind immediately landed on when I first read this passage. But I knew God had more to say, so I read it again and again and again—and as I meditated on it and prayed through it, I discovered a hidden treasure I never knew was there!
Jesus isn’t telling us to drop our burdens, grab the Oreos and remote and binge on Netflix for the remainder of our days. Nor is He telling us to slow down, give up, or quit.
He’s inviting us to come.
To lay down our burdens, afflictions, and problems. To take a breather. To rest. To heal. And time to reevaluate our priorities.
He offers to teach us.
To Nourish us with His Word. To strengthen us and give us the endurance we’ll need going forward. Then He presents His yolk for us to carry in place of our own. One that’s lighter and easy to bear. One that coincides with His purpose for us here on earth.
See, we still have a job to do, burdens to carry, and responsibilities to meet. BUT with His yolk, our work is no longer crushing us with its meaninglessness. Instead, our labor is now Spirit-filled and Spirit-led; no longer void. Our toil has an eternal purpose.
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus is NOT saying carrying his yolk will make for a comfortable life. In fact, if you look throughout the gospels, you’ll quickly discover He prepares us for the opposite. However, He does tell us the eternal rewards are worth it! And that carrying His yolk is lighter because 1) it’s infused with eternal purpose, and 2) He’s there to helps us carry it.
As this settled on my heart and I confessed the “extra things” I was carrying, I came to an honest realization: I’m in a busy season of life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m happy with my life and its temporary insanity. I’m a wife, and my husband has a fast-paced, demanding career that he loves and I get to encourage and support him there. We have four boys who are all in various activities from sports, scouts, music, etc. Each of those has opportunities to volunteer and help out. I have several incredible people in my life I’m blessed to mentor and disciple. I serve in our church’s youth ministry. And I’m building a writing and speaking career in response to a calling God has placed in my heart.
However, I still struggle with overcommitment. I feel guilty every time I have to say, “no.”
What God’s been teaching me over the last month or is:
- Just because my schedule says I can do it, doesn’t mean it should.
- If I have to squeeze something in, I need to look more closely at what I’m forcing into my schedule to see if it’s worth the stress. If it is, then I need to eliminating something to make room.
- I need to look at opportunity costs of activities and evaluate my agreement to do them in light of the goals God has set before me.
A few examples:
- A few days ago I was asked to volunteer for scouts. The need was real, and I was sure I could force it into an already full schedule. But I knew if I did, I would be stressed for the remainder of the evening and would not be the leader I need to be at our youth ministry night. So I declined.
- This week Camron’s orchestra booster group emailed me and asked me to serve on the committee and participate in their fundraising activities. Although I support this program completely, I knew I don’t have the time to dedicate to it as they need. So I declined.
- I have a life-goal to run a marathon. I’ve run several half-marathons, but that full is still an unconquered entity. Every year our church partners with World Vision to raise money to provide clean water for people in Africa who don’t have access to our taken-for-granted luxury, and I believed 2017 was going to be my year. And as I proudly walked toward the meeting to sign up, I felt His arm hold me back. I was frustrated. Angry even. Then God spoke to my heart: Not this year. I have a different marathon for you to run. Trust me. I was crushed! But I chose to trust Him. And truthfully, I’m still running His marathon. But as this year’s meeting is on the horizon, I’ve been asking Him if this is the year. Begging is more like it. So far, I have a feeling this is not going to be the year either. I will have to rock my workouts at the gym and maybe rerun the half. However, I’m still asking. But as I have yet to cross His finish line (publishing), the full marathon may not be part of His burden for me for now.
What Jesus is teaching me in this season of my life is to guard against over-commitment. To make schedule time to rest. To seek Him in all things—including my schedule. Because I can do a lot of things, but when I’m over-committed I don’t do any of them well. And He wants my best. He gave me His best, so He deserves my best. And that includes resting.
What is your current season? What is God teaching you?