Christian Living

Love lives differently

This week on our podcast, Epic Every Day, we’ve been talking about starting new things. As I was reading through my journal, I was reminded of this great chart Priscilla Shirer has in her Bible study on the Sabbath, Breathe. If you haven’t done it, I highly, highly recommend it!

Priscilla starts her book with a quote from Harriet Tubman: “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.” Isn’t that the truth? A person has to know they’re in bondage before they can get free. And sometimes, the only way to tell whether you’re in bondage to something is to take a break from it. Can you go without coffee for one day? Can you go without computer games for one day? What about sugar? Or TV? Or [insert your go-to method of dealing with stress]?

So often, we are slaves and we don’t even know it. It’s an excellent strategy for keeping us ineffective and unproductive in our faith.

Anyway! Priscilla has this great chart in Breathe. Take a look (& take the time to read through it slowly and thoughtfully):

Slave hoard–Free people give.
Slaves live fearfully–Free people live lovingly.
Slaves live with closed fists–Free people live with open hands.
Slaves live from a posture of lack–Free people live from a posture of abundance.
Slaves live from a  stance of deficiency–Free people live from a place of holy expectation.
Slaves never think they have enough–Free people believe that whatever they don’t have, God will graciously, miraculously, and abundantly give in His timing.
Slaves keep going–Free people can willingly discipline themselves to stop.

Breathe, p. 76

 

Slaves live out of fear. Fear is one of the big reasons I don’t start new things. It’s scary to do something outside of my comfort zone. Uncomfortable by definition. But that’s not who God has called us to be.

Re-reading through this chart, I found myself wondering what new things I would start now if I was living out of love rather than fear. I mean, I have things on my radar to start if we ever have the finances to do it (for example, a trauma house or a scholarship for natural health). But what about now?

Maybe it would be as simple as being a little more open in my relationships. Or maybe I’d be a little more relaxed about my schedule–that’s definitely something I tend to hang onto with a white-knuckled fist. Or maybe I’d jump into something insane like actually publishing my second book (it’s been languishing on my computer). There are loads of things we could be doing at any given moment. You don’t have to do what you did yesterday–you could quit your job and join a circus. I wonder what we’d learn about ourselves and what God’s called us to do if we were a little more open-minded about how our lives could change.

There’s this great clip of Will Smith talking about fear and skydiving. He points out that so much of our fear is leading up to the thing. We wreck our lives being terrified of things that haven’t even happened–missing meals and sleep and not enjoying time with the people we love out of dread for something that we aren’t doing in that moment. And then, often, we find (if we do the thing we’re scared of) that it wasn’t as scary as we made it out to be ahead of time.

So how about you? Where are you living out of fear? And what would it look like if you were instead living out of love? What new things would you start?

Blog_ Love lives differently-2

Christian Living

Why You’re Too Busy to Skip Your Quiet Time

As I’ve mentioned, I’m working my way through Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study on the Sabbath called Breathe. And I’m really enjoying it–she’s got a LOT packed into the four weeks of homework!

In week three, she has this great phrase: “Take care of God’s business. Let Him take care of yours.” The section is on the Israelites in Exodus 16 and how when God instituted the Sabbath they were out in the desert and had been commanded to gather manna. It’s pretty amazing! God tells them to gather 1 omer per person per day and when they go out to gather, they find that no matter how much or how little they gathered, it still ends up to an omer per person in their household. Makes you wonder if the Israelites were all scratching their heads come time to measure the manna.

The other neat thing about this passage is that the Israelites are commanded to gather a double portion the day before the Sabbath. Priscilla argues that the people spent the same amount of time gathering as they did any other day and it just ended up being twice as much. I’m not familiar enough with the passage to agree or disagree, but I do believe that God gives us enough time to accomplish the things He’s called us to do and that He can definitely double our effectiveness.

Anyway! So in this section, she talks about how when we honor God with a Sabbath, He makes sure everything else works out okay time-wise. You see this principle in Matt. 6:33 where Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (NASB) The idea being that we focus on God and He takes care of our needs.

This is definitely something I’ve seen happen in my own life, particularly with my morning quiet time. Before I had children, I had a very inconsistent quiet time. After my first daughter was born, I was overwhelmed–there never seemed to be enough time in the day. A Bible study I was doing challenged me to start having a daily quiet time and see what God would do. To my shock, I discovered that the days when I did have a quiet time would go so much smoother. I’d get more done. I’d be less stressed about it. I remember one particularly crazy day when we had to get up early to leave for a trip and I told my husband that I had way too many things to do that day to skip my quiet time. 🙂

The reality is we’re all too busy–it’s part of American culture. We’re too busy. And I hear that excuse so often when people explain to me why they don’t actually have a regular quiet time. But I’m here to tell you that when you give God the first part of your day, He works out everything else. Do your quiet time and you won’t be too busy to have a quiet time because God will fill in the gaps with your house, your kids, your job, etc., etc.

The reality of our situation is that we’re all too busy to skip our quiet times.

Christian Living

Sabbath Margin

Providentially, the next Bible study I’m working my way through is Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe. It’s about Sabbath. I’m really loving this study, you guys! If rest and margin are issues you struggle with, it’s definitely worth doing!

I really enjoyed that God put it right after doing the week on self-control in Beth Moore’s study on the fruit of the Spirit. Rest is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life. I’m better at it than I used to be but I still feel like I lack margin. In week one, Priscilla talked about how God created rest on the 7th day after creation. She springboards from there in a few directions.

First, rest is something intentional. My “rest” tends to be a cessation of labor that comes when I’m either overwhelmed or just plain exhausted. I learned though that that’s not actually rest. Rest is proactive rather than reactive. Rest takes self-control and discipline to create.

Second, God rested. We live in a society (and I was raised) that believes rest is a sign of weakness or laziness, that we’re inconsiderate if we say no to ministry opportunities so we can rest instead, or that our worth is dependent on how much we do. The fact that God rests is in direct contradiction to those things. God isn’t weak. He isn’t lazy. And He’s not inconsiderate. Nor can He gain or lose worth–He just is. So, when I rest, I’m not being lazy. I’m not weak for resting. Resting doesn’t make me a bad person who is inconsiderate or worth less than I would be if I was busy all the time. I don’t know about you, but those are all things I know intellectually. Putting God in the equation gave me a different perspective; I’m not about to argue God is lazy/weak/worth less for resting, so why do I believe that about myself?

Third, Priscilla talked about how God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites when they were leaving Egypt and she argues that it’s because the Sabbath can set our hearts free (something the Israelites desperately needed after generations of slavery). Sabbath forces us to uncouple doing and worth, getting rid of performance-oriented worth. It disconnects time and accomplishments. We have to acknowledge that God is the source of our accomplishments because we’re taking breaks. It makes us let go of control. For several years now, I’ve taken a break from writing on my Sabbath and it’s sometimes a little stressful. I can tell when I’m starting to panic over finishing my book because I don’t want to take that break.

Unfortunately, rest doesn’t just happen. As I mentioned, it’s created. It’s about putting walls around various areas of our lives so we have margin. Margin is so key for life! A few weeks ago, I learned that the creative/problem-solving part of your brain shuts down when you don’t have margin. All our busyness is making us less productive–like hamsters who compare how far they’ve run on their wheels instead of hamsters who get off the wheel and actually go somewhere.

So what about you? Are you too busy? Do you have enough margin in your life to work smarter instead of harder? How can you create more margin?

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Tangible Reminders

[Jdg 6:11 NIV] The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

I’m working my way through Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon and today it was about how threshing amidst the Midianites’ oppression showcases God’s faithful loyalty to His people.

This was particularly timely for me. I overdid it this weekend–to the point that I’ve had to use my wheelchair around the house. I’ve been feeling discouraged and grumpy. It’s the second weekend in a row I’ve been unable to get around the house. Happily, as I wheeled myself to the bathroom, I was struck by God’s grace even here.

Six years ago buying a house wasn’t on our radar until our apartment situation became unsafe. Once we did start looking at houses, we wanted one with a basement. I wasn’t sick at the time and basements are nice during the summer heat around here. But God brought our house to our notice and we fell in love with it, even though it’s a ranch style home without a basement.

Looking in our bathroom this morning, I remembered walking through our house for the first time. The bathroom has a handheld shower head with two locations–one low enough for sitting and one higher up. When we did our walk through, we were naively confused by this. Our realtor told us the previous owner had had health problems and had installed this. She also told us it’d be easier to sell our house later if we got rid of it and any other handicap conveniences. So when we bought our house, we settled. Settled for a single level house with only one step. Settled for a house with handicap inconveniences we thought we’d have to uninstall. Settled for a house with such an open floor plan my wheelchair can get around. Settled for a house with old carpet that’s easy for a wheelchair to get over and won’t matter if it gets wheel marks on it. Settled for so many things that are perfect for us now. God knew we’d need them.

There are times when I feel like God has forgotten us and that’s why I’m sick… that like Gideon, the Midianites are stealing away our crops and such. But when I look around–when I realize there’s still grain to thresh, still evidences that God is taking care of us–I’m re-reminded that God is with us… that my illness wasn’t a surprise to Him… that He has a plan for us, something beautiful He’s working not in spite of my pain, but by means of my pain. It brings such joy to my heart! I love when God gives me tangible reminders. Who would have thought a wacky shower head would come to mean so much? 🙂