Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rat Race, part 2

I left off my last entry saying, “we have to slow down.” In part 2 I want to talk more about WHY we need to slow down. Its not about slowing down just for the sake of being lazy and sitting around, its about slowing down in order to build our life around God rather than trying to squeeze Him in between work, the gym, bible study, grocery shopping, worship practice and girls night out. First stop is to look at what the bible says about our priorities.

The “Proverbs 31 Woman” is a great passage in the bible that talks about a “wife of noble character.” She is hard working bringing food and clothing to her family and extending her hands to the needy. In fact, it says her light never goes out at night and she is up before dawn. She works hard and she is praised for it. I definitely think we are called to work hard. Proverbs 10:4 says 
”lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” So, if the bible praises and encourages working hard, why am I saying to slow down? If you look closely, the woman in Proverbs 31 is putting her hands to meaningful tasks, providing and caring for family and those in need around her. Yes, she is busy but it isn’t a stressful pursuit of the American Dream. When I read about her I sense that her life is a calm and purposeful pursuit of caring for the people that God has placed in her life. She can laugh at the days to come proving that she wasn’t worrying about tomorrow, she wasn’t planning out her days and stressing about how she could make is all work. She laughed at it. My guess is, she was living one moment at a time, each one glorifying the Lord. Also, we can consider Mary and Martha. Jesus praised Mary for sitting at his feet and worshipping while Martha bustled around cleaning and preparing food. Ecclesiastes 4:5 says, “Some say it is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing, because you will starve to death. Maybe so, but I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind.”—King Soloman (the wealthiest man to live). We have to be careful why we do what we do. It is so easy to get caught up in chasing things or spending our time doing stuff that distracts from God and his eternal purposes. Things that often seem important or like a good thing are only pulling us away from God.

This is where is gets tricky because often the things that are making us go non-stop are good things. In my life, two examples were a job and bible study. Even good, well intentioned things can distract us from God. We have to make time for him and do what he is calling us too. He wants us to put him first in everything. It is fine to work hard and provide a good life your family, if you are also willing to give up everything you have (literally) to follow him. What isn’t ok is working so hard and being so busy that we wouldn’t even know if he was calling us to give it all up.

This past month I gave up several things that were “crowding” and “busying” my life. And in doing that I have found time to study the bible daily with my husband, write letters of encouragement to several friends, spend time with neighbors and more time in prayer and worship. The things I am doing have more meaning to me. They are eternal things that I am investing in. Also in quitting a few things I have had to face several fears head on, such as not having enough money and having no friends. I was working a job because I was scared to death that if I didn’t we wouldn’t have money. And for that reason alone I had to quit. I cared more about the job than I did about trusting God. And you know what? As soon as I quit the job money came from the most unexpected places. My life is slower and more focused on God. It is a work in progress but one I will never stop marching towards. When I die I want to look back on my life and know that I lived each day focused on God, that my children lived a life devoted to the Lord and that I gave up everything for Jesus. I do not want to look back and have only a nice house, a nice car, and a fun life to remember. I want God all over my life. I want a life that sets me apart from those that don’t know the Lord, because that’s what living for Jesus is. If it looks like the rest of the world, what are we doing wrong? Jesus didn’t live like everyone else. He lived only to glorify God and I am pretty confident that it didn’t involve rushing from one event to the other trying to find a way to eat dinner in between. He had time for prayer and fasting, he had time to eat dinner with those who didn’t know him and time to teach others. He only did what mattered. Jesus didn’t run the rat race. You know, even if you win the rat race, in the end you are still a rat. :-)

In part 3 I want to challenge some of the things we fill our lives with. I want us all to take time to think about why we value what we do and why we spend our lives working towards certain things. Stay tuned…

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