When Less Is More
Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.
Many of us are afflicted with the “go, go, go disease.” Somehow we’ve developed the core belief that we can’t be happy unless we have our lives full of activities. But the disease leaves us feeling exhausted. Our most cherished relationships become shallow and tense, and we become confused because we’re trying so hard but feel so empty. We’re “grasping for the wind.”
In our light-speed culture, one of the marks of true wisdom is the determination to carve out time and space to reflect, rest, and recharge our emotional batteries. Creating “margin” in our lives doesn’t just happen. We have to schedule it, value it, and then protect it from the onslaught of voices that scream, “You got to do this, too!”
The price we pay for creating these regular times is that we have to say no to some activities, but we need to be honest about the price we’ve paid by saying yes to too many things. Making margin a priority reduces stress, increases fulfillment, and leads to richer relationships with God and every person in our lives. Is it worth the effort?
My God, give me neither poverty or riches, but whatsoever it may be Thy will to give, give me with a heart that knows humbly to acquiesce in what is Thy will.
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
When God created everything, according to Genesis, He rested on the seventh day. In the laws He gave to Moses, He required that the Israelites were to rest on the seventh day- the Sabbath and that day was to be used to refresh not only their bodies but to also renew their spirits.
Through the influence of Voltaire, the French attempted to restructure the week with ten day cycles. It wasn’t long before they had to realize that only what God set into place was the only thing that would work and they morphed back into the original seven.
Although many of us work hard to balance our work/ life, we find ourselves filling up what should be rest and rejuvenation time with activities. We rush from work to make sure we get to the gym or the field and then we rush home to get chores done so we can get a few hours rest and start all over again. Even our vacations are filled with so many activities that we often feel like we need another one to rest up. I believe one of the strategies of Satan is to keep us so exhausted that we don’t have time or energy to give to the development of our souls and our relationship with God. As a matter of fact the Bible says that in the last days, Satan is given the power to “wear out the saints.”
He will speak words against the Most High [God] and wear down the saints of the Most High, and he will intend to change the times and the law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, [two] times, and half a time [three and one-half years].
I want to issue a call to the people of God in particular, for just like all those around us, we, too, can easily find ourselves on the treadmill of life that seems to be ever increasing in speed. Sometimes even the church finds itself busy with so many activities that it doesn’t have time to enjoy any of them or time to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up the rest He has for us. We may even make time to come to church, but our minds are on the million things we need to do. Some of us work hard trying to fit work, life, activities, and church into our schedules only to find nothing brings us satisfaction because we’re too stressed and too exhausted to receive from God. We watch our clocks, counting the minutes we have until “we get out” so we can rush to lunch and make it to the next planned activity of the day. Can we choose in this fast-track, pell-mell, upside down world to make our time with God an important priority and a time to be refreshed through His Spirit.
But once a week isn’t enough to do the job. Maybe some of us need to turn off the TV, the internet, the cell phone, and social media for some time visiting the secret place with God. In the movie “War Room” the idea of creating a specific place in our homes to meet with God and to shut out the world for a period of time demonstrated the incredible benefits. Perhaps it’s time for us to consider making that move.
Oh we can continue our driven dash through life, feeling exhausted and stressed, giving up our relationship with God in exchange for another vain attempt to find something that will give our lives meaning. Or we can hear and respond to the invitation of Jesus:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and (renewal, blessed quiet) . For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”
It’s time for a calendar reset. Maybe we can’t reset all at once but maybe if we began with a little time with God and seek His counsel and wisdom, He just might help us develop a working plan for our lives that doesn’t leave us wiped out at the end of the day or week. Perhaps a good place for the family to start is by setting aside our Sundays to worship together with God’s people. As much of an advocate that I am for using social media and technology to expand the reach of the church, there is in all honesty no great substitute for gathering to worship. We need the fellowship of believers. I also recognize that the pandemic has left us with safety concerns so sanctuary gatherings may not fit well but at Peter’s Creek, we have found that our drive-in gives at least some of the feeling of fellowship.
It’s also time to make a choice during the week to carve out time with God in the secret place.
Unless you’re totally satisfied with your life and your schedule, perhaps it’s time to give some thought to a calendar reset. Jesus said that the thief(devil) comes to steal, kill, and destroy and there’s no better opportunity for him to do that then when we are running exhausted. Exhaustion robs us of the ability to think clearly so we respond impulsively and most time wrongly. All of us could use a little more peace and rest and only Jesus offers both. Something powerful happens when we find a “sabbath.” The principle that Jesus gave us is this: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” Why not give it a try? After all our plans don’t seem to be working out too well.
Dr. John Thompson