Friday, July 24, 2009

My Name is Linda... and I'm a Busyholic

Ephesians 5:15-17
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

My name is Linda, and I’m a busyholic.

I take great pride in filling my calendar to overflowing with appointments, meetings, work, church activities, social engagements, classes, workouts, hobbies, and any/everything I can cram into it. You see, it makes me feel valuable. It makes me feel useful. It makes me feel worthy. I’m not “taking up space”, I’m making the most of every moment… productive… efficient. It means I’m juggling all the “Proverbs 31 woman” balls in the air, serving family, church, community, and of course, God. After all, isn’t that what it means when God tells us to make the most of every opportunity? Thanks to my calendar, I can prove that I am godly and worthy and …. exhausted.

Psalm 42:1 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Well, I’m panting all right, but honestly, God, it’s not for You. It’s because I can’t breathe from the maddening pace of my life anymore. I hide the fact that I am so doggedly tired I can barely get out of bed in the morning. I’m often cranky and sometimes cry for apparently no reason. I shoot verbal bullets of sarcasm and my spirit becomes critical and mean because my eight hours of sleep have been strung out over the last three days. That now-not-so-occasional glass of wine has become a very easy way to make it all go away and finally fall asleep at night. My glass house of perfection is shattering, and I find myself in pieces in the midst of the blood-soaked soul rubble.

I am surrounded by a sisterhood of women who are just like me – running the not-so-good race, and falling down sobbing because we are bone weary from demands and expectations put on us from every area of our lives and everyone in our lives, but most especially ourselves. We have bought the lie, and been driven to distraction from that which really matters. We smile and laugh and say, “oh yes, let’s get together – how’s your planner look for, say, six months from now on Wednesday between 6:12-7:55?” And all we truly want to do is go to bed and pull the covers over our heads for at least a month.

How do we “stop the madness”, stop the foolishness of destroying ourselves, and begin to understand what the Lord’s will is? He calls us first and foremost to Himself, to simply be with Him. He tells us to come to Him, all of us who are weary and heavy-laden, and He promises to give us rest. But how? By getting up another hour earlier to add more prayer and Bible study to our already laborious life? Are you kidding me???

No, it begins by saying NO! No to those things which are not really bad, but maybe not best for us. It begins by recognizing that our worth, our value is already sealed with God. He is crazy about us, we are the apple of His eye, just as we are, right this minute. It begins by giving up the false things that make us feel worthwhile, and seeking first His will. It begins with obedience.

So… what does this practically mean? Well, I dropped a summer class at college, because I realized the accelerated pace and late hours would be especially grueling and that was just not absolutely necessary right now. It means I give up my drive for Ms. Do-It-All, and learn to pray first about what things I will say yes to, and if they fit in with the bigger plan of His will for me.

I have had some wonderful examples lately in my life of women who have had the courage to obey His voice. My friend Pam stopped doing many service activities, because she knew God was calling her to put on the brakes. She chose to say yes to things she enjoyed, because while they were good, they weren’t what God’s best was for her.

Another woman is Jennifer Swanson, who has had a very successful website/ezine/blog and organization business which I enjoyed for years. Jennifer has had the courage to let go, because she is obeying. How? As she writes, “… one step at a time… by faith.” Her site will close August first, and I applaud and admire her for following His will, and wish her every blessing her heart can hold! I love the verses she has chosen on her web page, Ecclesiastes 3:1,6: "There is a time for everything,And a season for every activity under heaven: A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to hold on and a time to let go."

That’s how we can do it... one step at a time... letting go... by faith. We may be saying no to things we enjoy, and prying our fingers open from clutching to the comfort of our frenzied, frazzled calendars, but we are obediently saying YES to God, to the many blessings we’ve been too busy to see and receive. We are releasing ourselves to Him, to the blessing of time to breath, for 10 unhurried minutes, for a quieter spirit, a calmer day, to a life of rest and peace, which can only be found when we sit at His feet.

My name is Linda, and I’m a recovering busyholic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leave Me Not to My Own Fruit

Proverbs 1:29-31: Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my life, and reflecting back on my earlier years in my twenties and thirties. It’s painful… because those are years I walked away from the Lord and chose to live exactly as I pleased by my own wisdom, rules and standards. I wasn’t about to be “fenced in”. I wince and shake my head as I look back on those days, and try not to dwell on the “what might have been” life had I remained obedience to the Lord and followed in His paths for me.

I also must realize that the past is just that – the past. There is nothing I can do to change one minute of what has been. However, what I can dwell on now is that I am forgiven, and I have a fresh day today in which to change my course and choose His wisdom and ways for me. I can glance back and learn the lessons there, but not allow remorse for my wasted youth to paralyze who I am today in Christ.

When you are choosing to live outside God’s will for your life, the punishment isn’t some lightning bolt from Heaven, or God’s vengeance pouring out on you in a Job-like scenario. I think the worst punishment we receive is that the Lord allows us to eat the fruit of our own ways and be filled with the fruit of our own schemes. I have paid a dreadfully high price for turning my back on Him, but it was at my own hand, not His. He hurt and wept watching my back as I ran away from Him as fast as I could. And yet, like the father in Luke 15:11-31, when I came back broken and worth less than nothing, He ran to me, kissed and hugged me, wept with me, cleansed me, and made me feel priceless and worthy again – a beloved daughter.

Even after that, I am still tempted (and sometimes succumb) to following my own strong-willed heart and “wisdom” (can you spell D-U-H?!?!). Lord, give me strength to follow You, give me remembrance of how my life was without Your loving arms around me, fencing out the pain and hardship of what my choices outside your will reap. Today help me to remember the sweetness of living in Your will, the joy of obedience to You, and the indescribable peace only being wrapped in Your love and path can provide.