Life can get very complicated. At least it can seem so. It always seems like “the hurrieder I go the behinder I get”. Like there aren’t enough hours in the day (though the ones there are, already exhaust me). For someone who tries to live their life apart from Christ and His leadership, I don’t know how they can even get through a single day. But even for us, for Believers, for those determined to follow the Lord’s leadership and will throughout each day and each moment… it sometimes seems hard to pick our right path among the rocks. At least, it’s hard for ME to do so.
And it’s not just “tasks”. It’s “preparation”, study, counseling, phone calls and conversations, emails and correspondence, relationships with friends and colleagues, prayer time, meditation, worship, family… even walking a beloved pet. None of which touches the issue of “sabbath” and how to take proper care of ourselves guarding against that pernicious “heart-weariness” that can so easily infect us.
Here’s the ultimate irony, at least for me in my life… I have actually come to a place, come to a season of my life, where beyond all else I want to “get it right”. I truly want to honor God with each moment. Here’s the comical part though… because of that, I am developing a fear of “getting it WRONG”… and in that fear, find I am wasting precious time and energy second guessing myself, triple guessing, or hesitating from taking forward steps for my concern that I’m not reading my path aright.
Today, thanks to the infinite grace and understanding of Our Lord, He has really had me just slow down a bit and realize this. I verge on the sin of “scruple”… to regret and accuse myself of sin, failing, or frailty that is not truly there. To entertain doubts that are based on nothing more than illusion and shadow. As He had me sit back today and take a deep breath… as He invited that I relax a moment and ponder this situation… He showed me that I was letting my life become this rabid case of “Twister”. (Ever played the game? Colored spots on the floor, a random spinner assigning the placement of a hand or foot on the given colored spot? Excellent way to either exercise or sprain the spine…)
So, how did my week become a “Game of Spiritual Twister”?
Three things have brought this about:
1. My innate vulnerability to “perfectionism”, and hesitation to perform a necessary task to completion, then set it down and LEAVE IT ALONE. Perfectionists, like me, are prone to “fiddling” with a task or product constantly, never making the necessary adjustments and compromises necessary to get them to completion… and then picking them back up once they’re finished to “make one more correction”. This results in a deadly form of procrastination, guaranteed to lead to frustration or failure.
2. My prideful carnality, and insistence on “doing it my own way”, or having to “do it myself”, in many areas that are simply God’s… not mine. One of my clearest failings here is the simple refusal to yield to “sabbath”. One seventh of the time, I… even I… am called to “trust God alone with the care and keeping of His Kingdom, even my little corner of it.” For some totally inexplicable reason, it is incredibly easy for me simply to REFUSE to stop, to rest, to recreate, to stay away from the office. As if, somehow, I believe the world will just spin off its axis, if I am not at my desk every daylight hour. This has the vague “appearance” of piety or righteousness, but is nothing more than pride and personal arrogance… abject refusal to trust to God and His competence, or to obey Him in an order He found serious enough to make one of the Ten Commandments.
3. This one? “Prayer Paralysis”, I guess. Hard to name. Maybe a weakness of faith or hope? Just such an intent desire not to be “wrong”, I struggle with the determination to risk being “right”. I am afraid of making a mistake, doing a wrong thing, having a wrong attitude. I can tell myself that the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear but of conquest, and yet still I can fear. Not even sure of what I am afraid OF! Isn’t that ridiculous? I think so.
So somehow all these factors just twist into a Gordian Knot I just label… “Life is Complicated”.
Which is actually, pretty much a lie I think. LIFE isn’t really that complicated. At least, not the way the Lord would have me live it. It’s just that when I pull back from Him, get focused in and on myself and my own center rather than on Him… I complicate it.
That is what I came to understand today. Life isn’t complicated. I am complicating life.
My mistake is to try to focus on my schedule, my tasks, my appointments, my responsibilities… in and of themselves. When I do this, I take my focus off the Lord and His love, both His love for me and His love for others. I start to switch over to relying on my own love, my own wisdom, my own intelligence, my own strength. I “disconnect” from my Source of All (which is God Alone), and try to run off my own resources. This is like cutting my home off from the power grid and “switching over” to a little portable generator. May seem fine for a little while, but once the fuel is exhausted… well, there I’ll sit in the cold and dark.
So, if the answer to the situation is to “stay connected to the Source”, to “rest in Him”, (which it is)… then the next question is “how do I do that?” The solution is not so much “technique” as it is correction of “underlying assumptions”. I have to reset my “anchor points”, reminding myself that HE is in charge. That HE establishes the sequence of time, schedules, responsibilities, and that He is fully aware of what is beyond the horizon (which I am not).
There’s nothing wrong with “planning” one’s month, week, or day in a responsible manner. As long as that planning is done from a heart of servanthood and dependance upon grace, rather than from an arrogant attitude of “managing and controlling” the day. Only God Alone is sovereign, and when we mistake our “responsible stewardship” of time… with “sovereign control” of it… we skate out on to thin ice, ripe for a rude awakening.
This may sound silly, but this day of rethinking my “Complicated Life” has left me with three strategies for correcting my errors:
1. Recognizing the Sovereignty of God, and my role and identity as both His child and His servant. I MUST trust Him as being Lord of Time, and take each moment as a gift from His hand, realizing that He will, with perfect balance, call me both to work and to rest at His good pleasure and in His perfect care of me.
2. Love. Simply that. Love God. Love others as they cross my path, whether colleagues, friends, family, or those with needs. Love freely and openly, without reservation, and I will find that I am as much “refreshed” as “depleted” by the exercise. Stop evaluating moments or categorizing them, and simply love through them.
3. Trust to His Fatherhood, and recognize my frailty as readily as He does. Wonderful insight from Brother Lawrence (Practice of the Presence of God): “When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, ‘I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss.’ Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.” If I will release my pride and embrace humility, accept how helpless a child I am without the Lord’s firm hand holding my own, then I can forgive and release my own faults and failures with the same ready ease and grace that the Lord does. It is subtle pride to wallow in self-disappointment.