Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Sharpens Your Saw?

Rest and Be Thankful
 Life can get pretty hectic. There’s always so much to do; people we want to spend time with, and calls we need to make. Kelly and I got to the point a week ago when we felt so overwhelmed that we needed to take a break and recharge. Even though it meant pulling back from the rest of the world. So, last Sunday after church, we slid into our jammies and spent the rest of the day hanging out at home. No phone calls – just movies, reading, foot rubs, and reconnecting with each other.

Putting on our pajamas is our cue that we can’t renege on our plan. It ensures we won’t venture out and get caught in a stressful situation after we’ve declared it a day of rest and rejuvenation. We’re in between the generation of curler-wearers and the younger generation that scuffs store aisles in pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers. Once we’ve donned our sleepwear, we’re home to stay.

As it always does, Jammy Day did the trick. By Sunday night, we were both beginning to look forward to the new week and all we had going on. We were able to head back into the fray Monday morning full of energy and enthusiasm. Why is it, then, if it’s so beneficial, that we have such a difficult time making ourselves take a break?

Richard Eyre, author of Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: New Maxims to Refresh and Enrich Your Life, says, “Like someone sawing furiously with a dull saw, we keep doing something and tire and stress ourselves, never taking time to just sit there and sharpen our saw.” It’s true, most of us feel like we have to keep moving at all times, even if our activity is no longer productive because we’re stressed and overtired.

Even Jesus took regular time away by himself or with His disciples for prayer, rest, and I suspect, laughter. So why do we think the world will fall apart if we take some time off once in a while? I like the way the Message paraphrases Jesus’ invitation, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30).

So my question is: What “sharpens your saw?” What do you do to get revived when you are feeling dull, so you can think and act with more focus and energy? I invite you to share your answers with other readers. What have you done recently to stimulate your spiritual or physical health? How it has benefited you and your family?

To get involved in the discussion, click on the word “Comment” below and write in the box. If you don’t have an online account, select the word “Anonymous” and be sure to sign your name in the comment box. Then “Post” your comment. Let’s encourage each other with fresh ideas on how to live for Christ more freely and lightly!

Beth Vice

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Way is My Way

Liz knew her daughter was strong willed, but she didn’t realize to what extent until the day Tanya decided she wanted to make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Liz thought her three year old might need some assistance, so she went to the kitchen to supervise. However, Tanya let her know she didn’t want her in the kitchen.

“I’m just here in case you have any questions,” Liz assured her daughter.

With a withering look Tanya answered, “My way is my way, and I will do it my way.”

Well then, so much for being needed.

I laughed when I heard the story, but it smarted a little when I realized how much I resemble that little girl sometimes. I get an idea in my head of what I want to happen in a particular situation and my Father stands by to help and guide me. It is His kitchen after all. Instead of accepting His wisdom, however, I insist on doing things on my own.

I end up making a mess, my recipe doesn’t turn out, and it takes far longer than it should. All because I persist in doing things my way. Never mind the fact that He’s been doing things since before time began. Forget the reality that He’s all knowing and perfect. And the most important detail is He loves me and knows what I need better than I do. He longs to teach me what is best. Why would I not take advantage of His offer?

Isaiah encourages us to, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

In other words, the time to get His help is now. Enough of this messing around in the kitchen, telling God to take a hike. Salvation is only the beginning; we need help in the peanut butter and jelly moments of life too. This “limited time offer” is when we need to ask for help instead of insisting on our way. We need His wisdom, timing,words, and most of all, love.

God adds to Isaiah’s invitation, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-9).

Our ways seem reasonable at the moment, but they won’t stand the test of time. God knows what is perfect for every situation - the right amounts, at the right time. His ways are as superior to ours as a gourmet meal by an experienced chef is to the sandwich of a willful three-year-old.

When I saw myself in Tanya’s story it wasn’t complimentary. It reminded me of my need to look into the face of my Father and say, “Your way is my way. Please teach me, Lord, how to think and act like you. I want to learn from the Master.”