Does Life Balance Even Exist?

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)

There have been many times when I lived without a pause button, but one season tops them all.

All five of our children were in elementary school and involved in sports. The three boys played on three different football teams, one daughter was a cheerleader, and the other daughter played soccer. If that weren’t enough, my husband ran his own business, I worked part-time and sang on the worship team, and my husband and I led a small group at church.

Our lives consisted of an ongoing handoff of children and responsibilities that needed military precision to keep moving.

There was no time to meander, stroll or take the scenic route. And there were literally no breaks. Days ran into nights and weeks blurred into months without us having any time to relax and catch our breath.

Thankfully, it didn’t last forever since the football season came to an end, but I declared that kind of overload would never, ever happen again. There was absolutely no margin for error or sickness.

In the aftermath, I realized we had no non-negotiable boundaries set in place to protect us against that kind of crazy. Everything was fair game to cancel so we could get more done: We gave up family dinners, leisure time and didn’t guard the Sabbath.

That season, and many others before it, proved that unless I put borders around my busyness, I will be a wreck, and my family will too. But it also begs the question: Does life balance even exist?

For most of us, there are few non-negotiable boundaries when it comes to busyness. We live without the built-in rhythms of the rising and setting sun that guided our ancestors just a few generations back. Few of us live an agricultural or pastoral life led by the gentle demands of animals and crops.

We could work 24 hours a day if our bodies and minds would let us. Hence, we get drawn into a nonstop lifestyle of work.

Although I firmly believe the Bible honors hard work, the Bible does not say we need to be busy all the time. This is where we need wisdom to find a balance between work and rest.

I love how King David acknowledges God’s perfect plans: “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).

Although David refers to property lines, this is a lovely image of God’s plan for balancing our lives. God has boundary lines established for us that are pleasant and manageable. He never meant for our lives to be a jumble of overcommitment. Rather, God’s plan is peaceful and ordered.

And in order to find that pleasant place, we need to have healthy boundaries on our time with lots of margin built in.

Margin plays an important part with a boundary, whether it’s on our property or in our lives. Margin creates safe places, adding beauty, breathing room and balance for the eye and mind.

I learned this concept when I took an editing class. The beauty of well-designed page isn’t just what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. The un-designed area, called white space, carries as much, if not more, impact as the words or graphics.

A significant value of white space is to make the page visually appealing so you want to read it. As our eyes scan a crowded page, our minds tell us it’s too much work and we disengage.

But a page with lots of white space invites you in. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or chaotic. It feels simple, doable, calm. White space gives the reader a mental break while at the same time drawing your attention to what’s most important.

And this is what a life with margin around boundaries does for us. When our lives are overcrowded with “content” and lacking white space, we will feel cluttered and confused. It’s hard to identify what’s most important because it all runs together in a blur.

But by creating balance in establishing boundaries for our busyness, we give ourselves breathing room. We give ourselves time to think, dream and plan. Busy gets seriously out-of-control without boundaries.

Finding balance is possible. Establishing healthy boundaries involves editing the content in our lives, carefully identifying what’s most important … what God is asking us to do today. Then as we remove what’s not ours to do, we can breathe a sigh of relief at the beauty that’s revealed in our lives.

Lord, thank You that Your plan for me is pleasant and secure. Help me see those areas of my life that are crowded and confusing, and give me the wisdom to create a balance … to set boundary lines that bring peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

***

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:

It is possible to end the cycle of overwork, exhaustion and guilt … guilt for working too hard or not enough. In her new book, Doing Busy Better, Glynnis Whitwer shows how to find a healthy and holy balance between work and rest, and find significance in the One who created both.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Is there an area of your life that feels overcrowded and lacking peace?

Prayerfully consider what you can remove from your schedule, or to-do list, to create more margin in that area.

© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Can I Do Busy Better?

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2 (NIV)

There’s an old adage that says, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

Clearly, the person who wrote this — and the people who repeat it — believe being busy is very wrong. But what if God is actually pleased with the right kind of busy?

Could the problem be our definition of busy? Maybe what we really mean instead of busy is frantic, overwhelmed or too busy.

The dictionary defines busy as something quite pleasant: “actively and attentively engaged in work or a pastime.” That sounds great!

Yet, it’s too easy to look at our chaotic lives, cluttered homes and fractured relationships and think the problem must surely be that we are busy. But how can being attentive and engaged cause those problems?

Unfortunately, sin has distorted God’s gift of work. Too many of us are working more than we should, or we are busy with the wrong things, things that aren’t ours to do. Consequently, we are experiencing levels of emotional and physical exhaustion that impact our ability to enjoy God’s gift of rest.

God designed work to be a healthy part of our lives, not drive us into the ground. It’s how we live out our God-given design and use our gifts and talents. God even opened the entire Bible with an example of work. But He also made sure to model rest as well. Our key verse shows us the importance of both: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work

(Genesis 2:2).

Yet sin leaves us wounded in every area of life, and work is no exception. Sin broke the divine work/rest rhythm God established, so it’s not surprising we don’t have a healthy view of how these two major components of our lives should complement each other.

There are so many lies that prod us to work more than we should, but each one has the same root Satan used on Adam and Eve: We are our own providers, and we know better than God.

When we feel that our safety, security and significance depend on us, we will not know when to stop working. We will push ourselves beyond capacity. And we will take on more than we can handle.

The alternative is so simple, yet so hard. It’s what God wanted all along. He wants us to trust Him. Trust Him with our daily needs. Trust Him to open doors of opportunity. Trust Him to define our identity.

If we truly trusted God, we would not look for work to supply our needs. God would be our provider and work would be our calling. And rest would be a gift, not something we resent because it keeps us from working.

For so many years, I thought I could manage my over-busy life with smarter productivity tips alone. Those worked for a while, but I always got myself back into chaos, because I never addressed the root cause of why I tend to be too

busy.

This is the journey God has had me on for the past few years. He’s been trying to teach me that His plan for work was never intended as a burden. And that His gift of rest is one I shouldn’t reject.

When I started to really honor the Sabbath, to understand rest as God meant it, the Lord removed the chains to over-work that I could never shake off.

God has wired me to work, and I need to accept it. But I’m also created to work best when I submit to God’s plan, which involves rest. I’m learning that it’s OK to be busy, so long as I do it God’s way.

Lord, thank You for helping me understand Your plan for work and rest. I don’t want to be so busy that I miss what You want to teach me through rest. Help me trust that You alone are my provider. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

***

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 127:2, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)

 

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Glynnis wrote that Satan uses lies to get us to be too busy. Can you identify a lie that has prompted you to be over-busy?

What would you need to do this week so you could take a full day of rest on the Sabbath

 

Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book releases today! If you are worn out from being too busy and long for God’s gift of rest, you’ll enjoy Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest. In it, Glynnis explores what leads us to become too busy, and how to find the soul rest God really wants for us.

© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Finding the Soul-Rest Jesus Offers

BY PROVERBS 31 MINISTRIES

JULY 17, 2017

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

Rest can feel elusive. That which should make us feel rested often doesn’t. Consider waking up after a restless night and your first thought being how early you can go back to bed.

Propping your feet on the coffee table after a long day of work and turning on “Fixer Upper” could make you feel rested. But it doesn’t. Because now you wish you had an urban, country, industrial-styled farmhouse. Dissatisfaction taps on your heart and the restlessness begins again.

Vacations really should be a time of rest. But after working overtime to get ready, then the rush of the vacation, and working overtime to make up for being gone, restful is not how most of us would define vacations.

I’ve struggled with the biblical definition of rest for years. I was never sure what God really meant when He asked us to rest from work on the Sabbath. I love to work; did that really apply to me?

Yes, it does. But God always wanted more for us than to stop working. If the only definition of rest we know is the absence of work, then we have missed the fullness of God’s gift. God wanted physical rest to lead to spiritual rest.

In our key verse, Jesus invites us to a deeper rest … a soul-rest:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

I love that Jesus identified our common condition of weariness without specifying how we got that way. This way, the promise of rest applies to all of us.

But Jesus wasn’t talking about physical rest; He was inviting us to a rest that is all-consuming. A rest we feel in our minds, bodies and spirits — this is soul-rest. And the only place we will find this rest is Jesus.

Soul-rest is deeper than any other kind of rest I’ve experienced. It’s not circumstantial, nor does it need to be renewed. Soul-rest, rather, has its roots in something unshakable. It is rooted in faith and confidence that we’re deeply and unconditionally loved, held safe in the arms of our heavenly Father.

Soul-rest comes when we trust God fully, which is quite different from merely saying we trust God. Words will not give us the rest our souls long for. Trust will.

When we declare Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, meaning He’s not just someone we read about in the Bible, something changes in us. And when we think and live like He is worthy of our complete faith and trust, then we start to experience the soul-rest He offers.

My journey to trust Jesus has taken my entire life. I’ve always loved Him … believed He was who He said He was. But trust?

I don’t give my trust easily. People have betrayed me. I’ve betrayed myself. So, my trust always has a “yes, but …” attached to it when I give it to a person.

But God is utterly trustworthy. Each time I deliberately choose to trust God, fear loosens its grip on me. Anxiety recedes. Stress melts away. Worry doesn’t consume me. I am a different person than I was 10 years ago because of this soul-rest that comes from trusting Jesus.

Today, Jesus invites all of us who feel worried and burdened, from whatever has made us feel overwhelmed, exhausted and guilty, to come to Him.

And oh, how my soul stirs at this invitation from Jesus. This is the rest my soul longs for; it’s what I was made for. To know with certainty I am loved, cared for and protected. Not just on earth but for eternity.

Knowing this gives my soul an anchor, and quiets the striving, relentless part of me that seeks security and significance.

This is the message that will give each of us the abundant life Jesus offered. Not abundant with work, but overflowing with love and filled with the true soul-rest we long for.

Lord, thank You for providing a rest for my soul that’s not attached to a person or experience. You created me for this rest, and I accept it now. Help me fully trust You with my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Psalm 23:1-3a, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” (NRSV)

RELATED RESOURCES:

CONNECT:

Join Glynnis on her blog today for three more areas of your life you can entrust to God and experience true soul-rest.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

What is making you weary and burdened today? Have you trusted yourself or a person more than God in this area?

Spend some time in prayer presenting this burden to the Lord, asking Him to help you trust Him more.

 

In her new book, Doing Busy Better: Enjoying God’s Gifts of Work and Rest, Glynnis Whitwer shows you how to prioritize your goals and time, how to be present in the moment and how to find the freedom of true soul-rest.

© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.