I have been spending some time thinking about priorities. Where do I spend my time, my money, my thoughts, and my prayers? These questions come to me periodically, at times when I find balancing life to be a challenge and the familiar feeling to jump ship becomes strong. The feeling passes – until I become overwhelmed again.
I know I am not alone in these feelings. Recently two women, who are at different stages in their lives, shared these same feelings with me.
One is trying to balance the needs of a husband, two young boys, and a dog with severe separation anxiety, maintaining a house, herself physically and spiritually while growing a sole proprietary business. Whew! Just writing that sentence was exhausting! The best and the hardest is while her business is growing she has less and less time during the day. Because her day starts at 4:30 am, in order to get enough rest, she ends her day at about the same time her children do. While opportunity is knocking, adding more clients may require her to stop attending Bible Study Fellowship. This is where she meets weekly to study the word and then apply it to her life. It is where she finds her strength and support to keep Christ in her heart, soul and in everyone who encounters her. She wants her clients and her family to see Christ through her. How does she balance life on earth with her love of God? Is she saying ‘No’ to Christ and ‘Yes’ to money?
The other is a grandmother who works fulltime in the health industry, and is the “go to” person for her family, church, and community. She is a caregiver for her mother, her husband and various members within in her family – grandkids on up. She is a Wikipedia of knowledge and ability! But she is tired, oh, so tired. And while her heart light is on, anger and resentment has dimmed the light. Christ is not shining through with the intensity it once did. How does she balance her family and her willingness to serve God? When does she say ‘Yes’? When does she say ‘No’?
This world bombards us with temptations to be the best, do the most, but what does God ask of us? And do we ask God what His plans are for us?
I certainly didn’t.
After my Walk to Emmaus, http://emmaus.upperroom.org/faq, I was on fire to serve the Lord and got involved within its community, and my church. It was wonderful and exhausting and after some time I found that while I was busy doing all the right things, my heart was no longer in the right place. I was overwhelmed trying to fit all the pieces in my life. It wasn’t long before frustration, resentment, and exhaustion replaced “peace loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
The piece I was missing was failing to rely on God, drawing near to seek His wisdom and desires for me first before I acted on any given opportunity. God does not ask us to do everything but to use the gift (singular) that differs for each of us, according to the grace given us, Romans 12:6-8. God does not ask for quantity but for quality of time. Finding the balance and knowing when enough is enough is difficult. But keep in mind we are not alone in our work in the mission field. When each of us works their gift, the world changes from gloom to bloom.
So how do we determine whether a particular opportunity is God’s will for us?
In Your Best Life In Jesus’ Easy Yoke, Bill Gaultiere shares how Jesus took time out to commune with God and to recharge so that he could go the distance God (noticed not us) has set out for him. He relied on the Father when he was overwhelmed with fear. Jesus had the limitations of being human and as such needed healthy food, sleep and relaxation. Matt 4:6-7, 26-28, 20, John 12:2). He set priorities and boundaries without guilt. “Jesus did not live on the defensive, overextending himself and getting more and more tired and then finally taking a break. Rather, Jesus lived on the offensive in dealing with temptation and Satan. He was proactive in that he consistently invested in his intimacy with Abba and this gave him energy and focus.” Jesus sought the company of others in the Faith (Matt 26:36-38). Gaultiere goes on to say that Jesus didn’t always do what others wanted of him. And when he did, he expected them to do their part. In the miracle of the blind man, he instructs the man to take the long walk to the pool of Siloam to wash the mud out of his eyes.
As caregivers – and you know who you are – we must pace ourselves as life on earth is a marathon and not a sprint. Care for your basic needs, and ask for support from friends. Withdraw from the world and find peace in solitude and in His word. Keep in focus what it is that God has gifted you to do and be singular in that purpose. Allow others to participate in the mission field as well. And perhaps most importantly, let go of the need to control the outcome, let God determine the results by placing your trust in Him. Oh, that’s hard. Christ experienced the fear and need to control the outcome when He was faced with the prospect of dying for our sins on the cross. He let go. He trusted the Father. And so must we.
No matter where you are in life, your world can feel like a crowded subway train – pushing you this way and that, threatening to knock you off your seat or place, leaving you to wonder whether you should continue to ride or get off and walk to your destination. But after prayerful consideration, know beyond a doubt that your answer was made with God. Therefore, be honest and direct. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’. And remember whatever you conclude, God can cause good to come out of even the worst of decisions.