One of the ways I’m going to do that – be real — is to write a response to the sermons I hear at my church, Blackhawk. These responses are not from the church, just my reflections. I am always challenged by teachers at Blackhawk, sometimes profoundly, but I don’t — to be honest — always take the time needed to apply them to my life. But, if life is too busy to apply what you’re learning about your faith and if you don’t change and grow, what’s the point? So here goes. Many people are busier than I, including my husband, and I just hope that this helps reinforce in some small way what God was already saying to you.
I’m privileged I know. I don’t have to work. And through that I have learned I am more than my job. I am more than what I do.
I’m “unemployed” and have been for ten years, since I left a busy career with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I quit my job the year of the tragedies of 9/11. But I had worked through three pregnancies. I had been “successful.” Why did I quit? Why did I stop? I can tell you that today I would have considered that decision more carefully — found a way to scale back responsibilities rather that cut all ties. But one cannot live in “what might have been.”
In 1991, I had a few months old baby, a two-year old and a three-year old, and a pre-teen and worked in full-time ministry. I don’t think I would have admitted it then, but I was utterly overwhelmed by my life. I was tired, burned out, bored with my job, and looking for change.
So I quit. I thought it would be simple to stay at home with the kids. What I found was that I was uncomfortable in my skin. And not emotionally or spiritually healthy. Produce and get things done was how I operated. I was competitive by nature. I was busy by choice. I was productive, one of the 20% that does 80% of the work in a church or non-profit.
Here’s something I wrote about myself, looking back at that time:
It struck me, how sad it is when one spends their whole life striving, working, driven by the next “important” thing. Having worked in a not-for-profit ministry for thirteen years and having grown up in Dan Harrison – the missionary leader’s home — I know about striving!!! I used to work like that. I used to get such a rush from doing — it defined me. It drove me. I would wake in the morning frantic that I was somehow already behind and go to bed at night anxious over what I had forgotten or worse NOT gotten done.
That sad picture was me! The world was about getting it done for me. I was my job. It is no exaggeration when I say I got my identity from what I was able to acocmplish.I was always thinking, working, doing. It was my legacy from my father which he held on to even as he was dying — that he hadn’t finished all he could do! He wasn’t even able to stop when he got brain tumors.
Stop and Be Filled
But this sermon was not about work being bad, but being able to stop and be filled. It was about trusting God. It was about being mature enough to sit with God, quiet in his presence with an open heart, for periods of your day.
My pastor confessed that he’s constantly on the go and like I once did, he sounds like he also measures his self-worth by his productivity. My pastor is a workaholic, I think, though he manages it. He seems to have boundaries, he exercises, and he maintains ongoing relationships, and the staff at church seem healthy too and so though I don’t know him personally but I respect his public life anyway.
He is learning after all these years that God says stop in Psalms 46 and the context isn’t one of peace and tranquility, it is chaos. More like how I used to live my life, than my life now. The psalmist describes the world gone crazy and things upside-down, where you can’t count on anything — In that moment just — stop.
God is an ever present help in trouble. I will not fear… This is poetry that shows God offers us refuge — a “basement in a tornado warning” kind of security.
“I am your refuge.” In this poetry, you can understand God is our Safe Place.
Relax! Cease. Stop! Be still!
When the world says go, when things are falling apart, when something reflexive and internal says fix it, do it — God says, when it is most chaotic, raphah! Be Still!
“Anyone can stop and not do something but guilt overcomes!” said Chris and went on to talk about how guilty he feels for not “doing.” How difficult his sabbatical was because he was unlearning a lifelong habit of being a doer.
“Stopping is the same as trusting, which is easy when life is peaceful. It is more difficult and a sign of our maturity when life is falling apart.”
How is this done practically speaking? How does one find time to stop and trust who God is for a few minutes in our day.
- Put yourself in a different location like doing for a walk.
- Be quiet. Turn off the noise. i.e. i-everything. Find the off button.
- Get up early or stay up late.