Strategy #8: Your Pressures (Fervent Blog #9)
“If I were your enemy, I’d make everything seem urgent, as if it’s all yours to handle. I’d bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn’t tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not. Going and doing, guilty for ever saying no, trying to control it all, but just being controlled by it all instead…. If I could keep you busy enough, you’d be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work you’re actually saving me.” (Shirer 133)
For two years my life was all about deadlines and responsibilities. I lived from one deadline or event to the next. There were book and teaching deadlines, marketing and ministry responsibilities, speaking and school events. My husband told me my calendar overwhelmed him. I was on the fast track, but I always needed to go faster. I never left the house without my laptop just in case I needed it or had the spare time to do work. Looking back I’m surprised I didn’t live in constant anxiety. Maybe since that had become the rhythm of my life, I just learned to survive.
“Things will slow down after this,” I told myself and my friends leading up to most events and deadlines. But then the busyness of the next thing demanded my attention.
It all came to a screeching halt when the doctor punctured my lung in December. The recovery became more difficult because I got sick in the hospital. For weeks all I could do was lay on the couch. I didn’t have the energy for anything. The pain was awful. I had to just be still. My schedule was suddenly cleared. Those deadlines became non-exist. My focus was literally on breathing and resting. Funny, I thought that I had prayed about all my responsibilities and commitments before accepting them. It wasn’t until I was forced to rest that I realized I hadn’t. I felt like I was seeking to do good for myself, my family, and God. Instead, I almost destroyed myself.
“Even the activities he gives you to steward are not given to see how many balls you can juggle, but instead so you can participate with him in staking a kingdom claim on the patches of ground where you live. …but these endeavors and hobbies and accumulated possessions of yours are meant to bring joy, to enhance relationships, to develop your gifts, to swell you with His blessing and contentment. They’re not supposed to be nothing but pressure.” (Shirer 141)
I’m sure in the past two years, I have done good things for the kingdom. Yes, I developed my gifts. But stress replaced joy and the hectic life I led left little time for developing relationships.
“Your father just wants you to be you. And that means not having to be two of you to get it all done.” (Shirer 139)
Priscilla talked about how when the Israelites left Egypt, they had a slave mentality. God wanted to break them from that by commanding them to have a Sabbath. It wasn’t a suggestion, it was a command. I think sometimes as mothers we have that slave mentality. After all, it’s a mom’s job to organize and arrange all the activities of the family. But it’s also our job to make sure that we are putting God first in our lives. As Priscilla warned, things and even people can become idols in our lives.
For a time, I struggled with having a Sabbath. When I was in charge of Children’s Ministry at our church Sunday was far from being a day of rest. Saturdays were filled with the kids’ sports, the weekdays filled with my teaching job. I really had to seek God and rearrange my schedule to find that time to rest. But when I did, He blessed the time I worked to finish more than I had before and I truly felt peace and His presence on my day off.
“He can enslave you to good things too. Your job, your ministry, even your recreational hobbies—nothing is so healthy and life-giving that he can’t turn it into a cruel taskmaster, one that bosses you around and runs your life.” (Shirer 136)
What pressures do you have weighing down on you? Do you currently have a day of rest? If so, what does that look like in your life? What scriptures do you need to use in your prayer for this area?
I encourage you to make a list like Priscilla suggests of all of the pressures in your life and lift them to God one at a time. Truly seek His guidance and direction. Let go of those things that only cause pressure. Then determine to create the habit of having a Sabbath. In keeping your Sabbath, don’t get hung up on the legalism behind it. I write on my Sabbath because to me, that’s an act of worship. If that is your Sabbath goal is to worship and seek God, you will be blessed with peace and rest.
All quotes not from the Bible are taken from:
Shirer, Priscilla. “Fervent.” B & H Publishing Group, 2015.