The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…Psalm 23:1-2
Howdy friends! Welcome to the “front porch” where you are always welcomed and always loved just as you are. This is where we cheer each other on as fellow strugglers, strivers and thrivers. A place where we sit a spell together to find rest on our journey, an encouraging word, a good belly laugh or silent understanding. Grab your chair or a place on the swing, kick off your shoes, grab a cup of coffee or tea, smell the fresh cut grass and butter up your muffin, “for everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”, including a time to tighten those apron strings and a time to loosen them, today we are going to learn how to loosen those strings girl!
School time, schedules and activities (Oh my!) are about to get real again gals. I had to start using a calendar again this past week (my calendar and I broke up for a while at the end of last school year). How many times have you said it already (or thought it) this past week or today: “I am busy…It is just a busy time of the year…Man, my week is soooo busy…I am really busy this week…It’s gettin’ busy up in here!” (my favorite version). My current calendar has this phrase on the front: “Bloom Where You Are Planted” and all I’m thinking is, “I can’t bloom dadgumit, I’m too busy to stay planted anywhere.”
OK, so how many times have you said this, this past week: “I am resting.” I bet you nowhere near as frequent or maybe not at all, compared to the b-u-s-y word. (In fact, people would probably look at you like you were crazy if you responded with that phrase and start asking where they could get what you are on.) That word has a lot of power over our lives, it’s almost an identity. It goes like this, Friend: “Hey, how are you doing?” You: “I am doing good, just busy…” (a.k.a. “Hello, my name is Busy. I live at 101 Busy Lane, I am married to Mr. Busy and we have four kids, Busy 1, Busy 2, Busy 3 and Busy 4 and a dog named Buster Busy. I drive a car to busy and back from busy. I cook and serve up some busy most nights of the week, I wash my hair with busy shampoo, and I stay busy doing busy here and busy there. I am trying to read a book about how not to be so busy but I am too busy to read past the cover.) We do “busy” a lot and well! Of course, I am having a little fun here, but the truth is we are not lacking for some busy in our lives but busy without rest can leave us lacking!
I hate to bust our busy bubbles but sometimes I think that is exactly what we need; busy is not a fruit of the Spirit and green pastures and still waters are not just poetic phrases; rest is to be a reality for our souls. How often do we say “I am busy…” but what we are really doing is stressing, worrying; we are anxiety stricken because “busy” and our perception about what busy with “balance” should look like is bossing us around and we are no match for what seems an unceasing demand on our time and mental and physical energies. Sweet sister friends, we have to take time to guard our souls with rest because Satan loves to use the disguise of busy to keep us distracted and distant from God, our source of abundant life, rest, peace and joy. Proverbs 4:23 says,
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
How do we guard our hearts in and from busy? We go to God daily and frequently, we rest our cares in His very capable and able hands and we rest at His feet with a teachable heart through His word, prayer and fellowship with Him. We confess our need for Him and His guidance for our days and depend on His strength not our own; we abide in His love and words of life through obedience (see John 15). Resting in Christ helps us guard our hearts, guarding our hearts gives us rest.
There is a difference in a busy necessary to accomplish work, goals and tasks as a part of our responsibilities and a busyness driven by anxiety. This anxiety driven busyness drains us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It can cause resentment, bitterness, discontentment, discord, disappointment and discouragement. It keeps us striving to master a “performance” we can never master and keeps us from experiencing the true gift of rest for our souls.
If you have your Bible handy take a minute to prayerfully read and “chew on” Luke 10:38-42 with me. I absolutely love this story and I am sure it is familiar to many of you. I think it shows us a wonderful illustration of what it means to guard our hearts with rest and keep our busy in proper perspective. To start off with, I really like the wording the Amplified Bible uses in verse 40-41,
“But Martha was very busy and distracted… (v. 40, Emphasis mine)
Martha was not just busy she was distracted. Distracted from what? There was something she needed, something that required her attention and it was not setting the table, getting the bread out of the oven, cleaning the house, getting the laundry done, getting a workout in, going to the store, etc. In verse 41 Jesus says,
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; but only one thing is necessary…” (Emphasis mine)
Busy and distracted…only one thing is necessary. Nope, not in my world, there are many things necessary and they all need to be done yesterday, right? Notice Jesus does not condemn or rebuke Martha because she was busy. Jesus saw through to the priorities of her heart, He saw past what the busyness was masking; he knew her thoughts and He tenderly addresses her worry, her anxiety about so many things. Because that is what happens with anxiety, one thought left unchecked with truth, left to take on a life of its own, turns into “many things”; we kick into attempt to control gear, become consumed, overwhelmed, misguided, full of fear and even angry. Martha was anxious, hurt and angry. I think she felt alone and forgotten, not cared for, unnoticed and maybe unloved. Maybe she was feeling like it all depended on her and she was buckling under the weight of “I can’t do this…” That is the kind of faulty (and prideful) thinking I have been fueled by many times; my busy is really an attempt to control, because I am operating in fear and not resting in Christ by faith. What I really believe is more depends on me than God (ouch!) If I was wearing the shirt to reflect this it would say, “All I need today is a whole lotta me and a little bit of Jesus.” Often Satan tempts us to “manage” our anxiety through the busyness of self-reliance which will wear-us-out-every-single-time.
Look at Luke 10:40, and imagine how the Enemy might have used this anxiety to convince Martha of what was not true. Can’t you just hear the Devil whispering to her, “Look, You think he cares about you? It seems no one really does, not even your sister. You are left to handle all this on your own as usual. He does not even notice you and all the hard work you are doing. He loves Mary more than you. In fact, he probably doesn’t love you at all or he would have already spoken with you, commended you for all you are doing, acknowledged all your efforts and commanded someone to help you. No, he does not care about or love you at all.” Have you heard lies similar to these whispered by the enemy? I have and I have believed them. I have been so caught up in being busy, self-reliant (and self-centered) and all I think I am supposed to do and thinking “God, do you see me? Do you even care? Do you see all I have to do? You know what all I have to get done. Someone has to do these things Lord, someone has to take care of this or it is not going to get done. No one else seems to care if these things get done or not…and what if this and what if that, then what Lord…are you going to help?” Martha needed a perspective shift and a priority change, Martha needed to rest. Sometimes we need the same thing. And Jesus was about to offer her an invitation for just what she needed. Look at verse 39 and 42,
“She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching…’for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which cannot be taken away from her’.” (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine)
Our degree of busyness is a choice and it will determine our priority of or lack of rest. Notice what Jesus said to Martha, “Mary has chosen…” and Martha could choose too. We can choose. The same invitation available to Mary was the same invitation available to Martha and to us. The invitation to rest, abide in Christ continually. Martha’s “busy”, driven by her anxiety, was keeping her distracted from Jesus; it was keeping her from abiding rest. Here is my big take home: Lack of abiding in Christ = Lack of rest = Experiencing lack = An anxious mind. I will feel lack when I am not abiding, when Christ is not my first and most desired thing, when I am not learning to trust Him in the busy, worry and unrest will take over my life and result in an anxious mind. I noticed I struggle more with discontentment, discouragement and distraction when I sense lack in my life; lack of abiding rest, lack of trust, lack of His truth centering my heart and guarding my mind. Psalm 34:10 says,
“But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.”
Matthew 6:25-34 and Matthew 11:28-30 echo this same truth about resting in God’s presence and trusting His provision. And I love this, in Mark 4:35-41, as a massive storm is going on and the disciples fear for their lives, verse 38 says,
“He [Jesus] was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion.”(CSB)
I am pretty sure if Jesus can rest in the middle of a storm then He means for us to make rest a priority too! What we do should flow from times of rest not worry. I believe we can fully experience the peace Christ promises even in the midst of our “busy”.
Most of the time our “busy” reflects our labors of love. This is how we honor and glorify God (see Hebrews 6:10-12). We are caring for and providing for our families, we are ministering to others, and we are serving in jobs and ministries and other work we are passionate about because we want to be used to make a difference, we want to love well those in our spheres of influence. Being busy is not wrong and life is truly busy! Being busy means we are using our gifts, it means we have many blessings and a healthy mind and body to do and take care of all that has been entrusted to us, but let’s make sure we are making abiding rest a priority so we can steward well and faithfully all God has given us.
“Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rest securely. You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy…”Psalm 16:9, 11
So ladies loosen up those apron strings with me and choose abiding rest. Make time daily to sit at His feet and soak in His loving care. May your soul have rest and your busy be blessed. Thanks for stopping by the porch, come back again real soon. Until then I will save a chair just for you.
Always loved, always welcomed on the porch and in His presence,
Copyright 2018 by Rhonda Loftis. All rights reserved.