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?

Christian Living

Fruit of the Spirit for Ourselves

Hey guys! How’s your year going? Everybody on track to work on their goals?

Somewhere recently (probably in Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself), I read this great statement about how the Bible doesn’t address self-love in depth because it’s just not conceivable to the authors that a person could not love themselves.

It’s so interesting, isn’t it? We live in a world where a lot of people have self worth issues–and I’m not talking about pride issues or anything along those lines. I’m talking about honestly believing that you aren’t worthwhile or that the world would be a better place without you. Kinda makes you wonder what it is about our society that creates that sort of environment.

Jesus commands us to love others as we love ourselves. I’ve been thinking a lot about how intertwined those two things are: you really can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. But you also can’t love yourself if you aren’t loving others. Loving ourselves is that whole “put your own oxygen on first if the plan is crashing and then help others”–we need to take care of ourselves so that we have the resources to love others. On the flip side, truly loving others actually creates resources in our own lives.

Anyway! I was convicted that I don’t do a good job of applying the fruit of the Spirit to my own life–so often, I focus on how to be patient with others all the while being impatient with myself or on how to be gentle with others when I’m harsh with myself. I think that the same way we apply loving ourselves as a natural yin to the yang of loving others, we need to apply the fruit of the Spirit. God is patient with us–so why aren’t we patient with ourselves? God is kind with us–why aren’t we kind with ourselves?