The balance of passionate work and rest

It’s been busy around here! As I look to have some balance in my life, I keep intending that to mean more time for writing. I’ve got some stuff brewing in my brain. I guess it’s not ready for consumption. ūüėČ

In the mean time, Mandy (who introduced me to the word for the year idea) shared a blog post written by her husband that describes very well the debate of balance in the Christian life. You can read it here: http://tonysteward.me/2010/04/are-we-resting-ourselves-into-mediocrity/

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Who knew?

Who knew the Bible said so much about balance? I didn’t really think of it before, but I’ve been learning a lot on this and other topics. Here are some interesting things that have jumped out at me so far. Most of these are things I’ve already known, but it’s good to get a reminder every now and then.

When I was first reading in Genesis, I thought to myself that I wasn’t learning much about balance from this book. God quickly reminded me of the beginning … on the seventh day, He rested. We need rest. Enough said!

Acts 6:1-7 tells about the disciples dealing with some widows not getting the food they were supposed to be getting. They decided that it was not the best use of their time to “wait on tables.” Their ministry was to pray and proclaim the word of God. So, they delegated. They chose seven others to work on the task of feeding the widows. Obviously they still considered¬†it an important task to care for widows, but they could not do it all. We are not to do it all ourselves. We should stick to our calling and primary responsibility and let others come along side to do other work that takes us away from our focus. [On a side note, the seven men chosen to take over the widow ministry were chosen because they were known for being full of the Spirit and wisdom. They weren’t experts at food distribution, they were God seekers.¬†I saw a quote on Facebook that said “God doesn’t call the qualified,¬†He qualifies the called.” ¬†A second note: if my pastor’s primary calling is proclaiming God’s Word, he should not be expected to do everything else or serve everywhere in the church.]

Back to Genesis … God asked people to do wild things, crazy things, things that are not logical or that fit into a perfectly balanced life. Noah built an ark. (Seriously, what would you think if your neighbor started building a gigantic boat in his back¬† yard?!) Abraham believed that he would be the father of nations, even though he and his wife were too old to have a child. Abraham obeyed God and prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. I haven’t gotten this far in my reading, but I know that Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua and the Israelites defeated Jericho, not with a battle, but with walking and trumpets. Gideon defeated a gigantic army with only a few hundred men, some torches and jars! The list goes on.

There are many stories of people doing crazy things because God asked them to, not because they were logical or fit into some sort of career goals. This is where I think God throws balance out the window. He asks people to do things that don’t make sense to the human mind, and then He shows up and does amazing things. For the follower of God, it becomes an act of obedience, trust and faith.

Back in Acts, I was struck by the wise words of a man named Gamaliel. He was a respected Pharisee and teacher. When the¬†apostles were preaching about Jesus and stirring up controversy among the religious leaders, Gamaliel told some of the men not to worry. He said there had been several other men who had preached things, gained followers and were then killed. He advised the others to leave the apostles alone. “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

I love this! I can plan and prepare and study and think about having balance in my life, but if it is only from me, it’s worthless. I can do lots of things, even really good things, but if they are of human origin, they will fail.¬†When I am seeking¬†God daily (back to¬†Psalm 1)¬†I will come to know what He wants me to do. This brings us back to some of the crazy, wild things God asked people to do. The key is that they originated in God, not in man. When God asks me to do things, I should obey. The key is to find out if I am listening to God or just coming up with my own ideas.

Psalm 1

On my first day of starting the reading through the Bible in a year, I read Psalm 1, and it tells me where I need to start to gain balance.

“Blessed is the man/woman … [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

Balance starts with delighting in the Lord and meditating on His Word — daily. The verse also refers to yielding fruit in season. Plants are designed to produce fruit at certain times, but also to have times to grow or be dormant. I am the same way. I have times where I can bear fruit and “produce” but other times where I must learn, grow and be restored.

Interestingly, I was playing around with different layout designs for this blog and tried out this one with the tree photo at the top. [Editor’s note: Layout since changed.] After typing Psalm 1, I think I’ll stick with this. It can remind me that I must be like a tree that is firmly planted by the steams of God’s Word.

Balance Perspective

I found this article¬†several weeks ago, it seemed like a confirmation in choosing the word balance as my word of the year. I love the perspective provided in this article! I also regularly read the author’s blog, as I appreciate his perspective on many topics. He has a good “balance” of grace and truth in his writing. But, because I have a whole year to go with this word, I suspect I’ll learn more than what he shares.

Oh, and he also has a great New Year’s Resolution post here.

Balance

I’m dusting off my “pen” for a challenge for the year. My friend Mandy¬†for the past few years has picked a word for the year. I think she got the idea from someone else, and has been spreading the idea through her blog. [Update: the word for the year thing started with Ali Edwards, a¬†scrapbooking/art/creative blogger.]¬†It’s been a way to learn about something, focus on something for the year.

I had an unofficial word for the year last year, in that I picked a word but never publicly discussed it. My word was discipline. How exciting, I know! It wasn’t magical or anything, but I was amazed how much it came up in my Bible reading, in Bible study, in random things I read online, even in some classes I took. I won’t bore you with all that I learned, but the most important thing I learned is that discipline brings freedom. My natural tendency is to think of the opposite. I’m also very sloooooow at implementing things in my life, so I plan to continue dealing with discipline in 2010.

My word for this year is the title of the post: balance. I’m always thinking I need more balance in my life. It seems like I sometimes have a one-track mind. Whatever is most pressing on my “to-do list” (I put that in quotes because I rarely have a written list, but there is a long list in my mind) gets my full attention. I wish things could be a little less stressful and a little more peaceful, and some balance seems to need to be in order. But, I also wonder if balance is really something worth striving for. I mean, it sounds all nice, kind of warm and fuzzy, but life isn’t always so predictable or simple. Is it even possible to have a life that is completly balanced? And is that really what God wants from me?

I’ve been drawn to these verses lately: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I suspect this verse will be key in discovering what God wants from my life … finding rest in Him, taking on the work He has for my life (His yoke) and learning from Him.

This leads to my other pursuit of the year, which is to read through the entire Bible. I’ve never done this. I am determined to do it this year. I’ve tried before and given up. I think my motives were wrong before. It was more of a checklist thing. Something I could cross off my “what good Christians should do” list. It was also an information gathering mission in the past, simply to obtain head knowledge. My desire this time is to simply know God. To let Him speak to me through His Word.

And, I’m not going to get hung up in the fact that I’m already a day behind! ha ha! January 1st was spent battling a stomach virus. Ugh! The plan I’m using is from The Discipleship Journal, and it has 25 readings per month, so there are days built in to catch up or do further study. Each day’s reading has a reading from the Gospels, another book in the New Testament, a Psalm or Proverb, and the Old Testament. It provides some variety, which is nice when treading through some of the Old Testament.

So, here we go 2010! I’m excited to jump in!