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

Rushing through the Holidays

Raise your hand if you feel like the holidays are some sort of bizarre mad dash where the finish line is a date instead of a place. Yeah, me too. This time of year is so busy! I’ve had a few conversations with folks lately about why the heck we put so much pressure on ourselves to check off some kind of list of activities that have to happen before Christmas. Buy the perfect gifts, make the perfect meal, bake the right amount of perfect cookies, send Christmas letters/cards, put up a tree, go caroling, etc., etc., etc. Lots of things on the checklist.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being busy this year–not because I’m so superly awesome at handling busy-ness and having margin in my life and resting. No, it’s because I’m superly not-awesome at being busy. I get stressed and demanding and I forget to take breaks. I’m not a fun person to be around when I’m too busy.

This week I was reading a story that’s pretty familiar to me but it hit me in a new way. Here goes: Jesus shows up at your house. He’s actually physically there, hanging out on your living room couch, and He decides, while He’s there, to talk about the Bible. So you have the author of the Bible actually explaining what He meant. With me so far? Do you A) sit down as close as you can get and ask questions? or B) go bake some awesome cookies to share?

I chuckled as I wrote those choices because I cannot imagine NOT sitting down and getting the scoop on how God designed things to work. On how I’m supposed to work. It’s Jesus! There are hundreds of questions I’m dying to ask Him: What was it like becoming human? How did He fully surrender His life to the Holy Spirit? Does He remember being born? Or being in utero? What’s His relationship with His human parents like? Why the heck did He allow various things to happen in the world and in my life? To name a few.

Anywho, I was re-reading Luke 10:38-42 and it hit me that that’s what Martha was doing. Jesus comes to Lazarus, Martha, and Mary’s house and Martha freaks out because she’s so overwhelmed with her to-do list and Mary isn’t helping. She goes to Jesus about it but Jesus tells her that Mary had chosen the good and it won’t be taken away from her.

As I read, I was reminded of the Israelites during the Exodus: reading how visibly present God was (pillar of fire/cloud) and how many miracles He did for them, I’m always amazed at how little faith they had. And then it hits me how little faith I have. God’s still the same God today as He was when He provided manna in the desert for forty years and yet I’m worried about how to pay our car repair bills.

Looking at Martha, I was reminded how easy it is for me to tell God that I am too busy to do my quiet time, that I’m too busy to pray, that I’m too busy to stop and sit in His presence and just bask in being His child. If Jesus was physically here, I’d put my whole life on hold to spend time with Him. Yet when I’m given the opportunity to study His Word and hear His voice through His Word, I skimp on my time or rush because I have so many other things to get done afterward.

The holidays are busy. I’m not trying to say we should deny the reality of the situation. Schedules and to-do lists get nuts. But we have the opportunity to be with Jesus, to spend time with the God of the universe and to hear His words. Let’s not forget that even when life is at it’s busiest.

Christian Living

Too Busy to Change

Hey folks! Sorry I missed last week. I spent most of the past week and a half in bed sick. Ridiculous how a cold can just lay me low at this point in my life/where my immune system is at.

Do you ever feel like the week just sped by? I frequently do! I can’t believe that it’s OCTOBER–OCTOBER! My oldest daughter just turned ten–also a shock to my system 🙂 Time flies, doesn’t it?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how being busy makes the time speed by like nobody’s business. When you’re busy, you just go through one day and the next and the next. There’s no time for extra things in your life (at least that’s how my life goes!).

This week my kids and I were talking about how people learn. Brain science is fascinating to me. Did you know that you can’t learn new skills if you’re in fight or flight mode? We’re hardwired to be unable to learn when we’re in survival mode. What puts a person in survival mode? Lots of things–anything that stresses them emotionally or physically. We need safe space in order to learn.

What does that have to do with being busy? Everything. If we’re busy, we don’t have that space unless we intentionally schedule it into our days. I don’t know about you, but some days I feel too busy to even catch my breath, as though if I slow down for a second, the rest of my day will collapse in a pile of unaccomplished tasks. My husband and I were recently talking about some changes we want to implement and trying to figure out when we have time to actually implement them.

I’ve recently become convicted that that level of busy-ness means that I don’t have space in my life for growing. Since becoming stagnant is my worst fear, this is a big deal to me. The sad thing is that, in our go-go-go society, being busy is almost unavoidable. So what can we do? How do we keep from waking up one day and realizing years have gone by without us growing?

I think one major thing is to create space in our days and weeks. My husband and I try to fit in a Sabbath every week. I personally love this practice. I was just reading a couple of entrepreneur books and listening to them talk about how key it is to work EVERY single day made me sad for the authors. I actually grew up with that work 7 days a week mentality but have since been convinced of the benefit of taking a Sabbath. It’s one of the things I do that remind me who is really in charge of making my life work–like going to bed at a reasonable time (Ps. 127:2) or tithing.

I also have a daily quiet time–something I think I would go insane without. I do prayer and Bible study and read back through my journal to remind myself of the things God’s been teaching me lately, but I also have time to just think and listen.

The other thing I’ve been working on is making sure I’m busy with the right things. James Clear describes the difference between motion and action: “Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself… Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.” It’s kind of the difference between getting caught up in doilies and dishes and being intentional about the things God has called us to do. There’s a kind of space that comes just from being who God designed us to be, a freedom that’s found in doing the things He’s called us to do.

 

So how about you? Do you have space in your life for growth or are you too busy to change? How do you keep space in your life (or put it back in)?

Uncategorized

Intrinsic Strength

So, I’ve blogged about this before and probably will again, but it’s what I needed to hear this week. I had a rough week. Despite (or maybe because of) our goal to get more sleep, I’ve been exhausted–insomnia, added health issues, hormonal things. It’s been rough. And I’ve done a wretched job of getting up in the morning and having my quiet time. Normally, my children will protest and/or suggest I go spend some time with Jesus when I haven’t done my Bible study (they know “mean mommy” comes out if I haven’t spent my time with Jesus). This week they didn’t for whatever reason and I just ran from one thing to the next or spent my time being ill-er than usual.

This morning in my Tai Chi class, we talked about intrinsic strength. We talk about this fairly often. Basically, it’s the strength we all gain when we align with gravity and ground ourselves on the earth. It’s the thing we take advantage of when we relax and lift with our legs. One way I’ve gotten in touch with this feeling is to pick up something (~5lbs or more). Try tensing your muscles. Now try relaxing them. Lean to one side or the other. Lean back. Lock your knees (briefly! you don’t need to pass out). When your body is aligned with gravity and your muscles are relaxed, the weight passes through your body and into the ground. You can feel it pushing your feet into the earth.

This is what our spiritual walk is like. I so often get tensed up, whether it’s out of fear or the belief I need to DO something. When we’re tensed, the stressor can’t just pass through us into the One who is holding us up. My Tai Chi instructor likes to say it’s like a kink in a garden hose. When I try to carry my problems with my own energy, it’s exhausting. When I simply allow them to pass through me to the ground, and allow the ground to bear their weight, I can still feel them, but they aren’t overwhelming me. Can the ground handle all the weight of everything on the earth? Obviously–it already is. So that’s half the equation.

The other half is staying connected to the ground. This sounds simple, but it’s really not (at least for me). It means not focusing on my thoughts, my plans, etc., etc. It means putting my full weight on the ground and relaxing into its strength, rather than trying to carry myself. God is our ground. He’s our firm foundation, our anchor. When we don’t spend time being still before Him, we forget who He is, we lose touch with Him. He’s always there–just like the ground.

The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t matter what circumstances throw at us–God is more than capable of handling them. He already does carry them.