(B)urdened (U)nder (S)elf-imposed (Y)okes
How to Have God Streamline Your Life
In Breaking Busy (Part One), I talked about how the Lord had been teaching me about “Breaking Busy” and I began sharing with you how I deal with streamlining my life according to His guidance.
The verse I used was:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
Tip #1: Start your day in God’s Word and in Prayer
I wrote about how God wants us to spend time with Him FIRST each day.
Tip #2: During your prayer time, ask God how He would like you to plan your day.
He can and will help streamline your life.
Read on for Tips 3 & 4!
Tip #3. Ask the Lord to help you to FOCUS ON WHAT HE THINKS IS IMPORTANT. (This is a mental step.)
When I came back to the Lord as an adult, I had to question all kinds of aspects of my life. I looked at how I treated and talked to my family, what I was teaching my daughter through my actions, and how I related to my students at school. I looked at how I spent my money, utilized my talents, and what I did with my time. Let me tell you, there was some re-arranging done in this heart of mine – and it wasn’t always enjoyable to face my previously poor judgement and flawed mentalities!
Sometimes it’s a hard thing to let Jesus take your heart and make it more like His. Perhaps that’s why He says in Matthew 11:29, “take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,” because we have so much learning to do! Two years later, and I’m still looking into the mirror that is God’s Word, not always liking what I see in myself.
With the Lord’s help though, I’m making progress transitioning from a “reader of the word” to a “doer of the word.” I’m also learning that He wants to help me focus on what He regards as important in my life. He wants to help me learn how to say “NO” to the busyness of life – and sometimes the perceived busyness – and zoom in on what is truly valuable.
You know how when a tragedy occurs, be it someone you know or someone across the world from you, and you find yourself grateful for friends, family, and your health? Those are the deeper things of life, the things that really affect us. Whenever I see a commercial for St. Jude’s on TV, those really affect me. Part of me feels terrible for those babies experiencing such a terrible illness, and part of me is so very grateful that my own daughter is healthy. It’s the things that grip your heart to the point where you almost can’t breathe when you think of them happening that make you extremely grateful when you just give yourself a minute to focus on them. Those are the things that we need to focus on each day: love of family, relationships with friends, and our own health. The things we would truly miss if they were instantly gone – the things that are often taken for granted – the things in life that are irreplaceable.
I think the common thread in all of those ideas is TIME. I know God has been talking to me lately about how I spend my time. I’ve wasted so much time – not living for the Lord and not spending time praying and reading His Word. I’ve wasted time doing a lot of things over the years: reading garbage, watching TV, surfing the internet, shopping online for things I won’t buy, you name it. The list of things I have wasted time on – well, it’s too long to list. I’ve even put serving my family above spending TIME with my family.
Yes, we need to have “down time,” we need to relax, we even need time alone – with God and ourselves. Yet we can’t forget to focus on the people God entrusted us with. Take time to enjoy your family. Plan an outing. Make a memory. You won’t regret it. In fact, I heard Jim Bob Duggar say on “19 Kids and Counting” something along the lines of,
“You’ll never look back one day and think, ‘Man, I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time with my kids!’ ”
God wants us to PRIORITIZE OUR DAYS according to our VALUES, not our DESIRES. Take some time to think about your values and your desires. It’s important, my friend!
When you stop for a moment to focus on what you really VALUE, on what you spend your time on, undoubtedly, if you’re honest, money will come up to some degree. I’m not suggesting you’re greedy – it just takes money to pay a house payment or rent, to eat, and to have clothing to wear. If you’re earning money, somewhere along the line, you worked for it. Earning money all comes back to time. I’d say it’s a necessary evil – work – but God gave Adam jobs in the Garden of Eden before He ever gave him Eve!
( See Genesis 2:15, 19 if you’re curious as to what those jobs were. 😀 )
So you see, we spend time to earn money, and how we spend our money matters to God, too. I heard Perry Noble, a preacher from South Carolina, say, “I can tell what you value by a look at your checkbook.” Take a moment to think about that.
I don’t write a lot of checks because I use a debit card, but here’s what my bank statement says about my husband and me:
It would tell you that we have debt, but we also have various streams of income. It would say I own my own home (seen as a mortgage payment), and that I enjoy the luxury of running water and electricity. You could see that church I go to and that I believe in tithing 10 percent. You’d see that I like to go out to eat too much and I love to buy clothes, but I have a LOT of bills. It would also tell you that I like my cell phone and my internet service. It would tell you that I don’t watch cable TV but I do have a Netflix account. It would tell you I like cheap groceries and that my husband and I drive a lot (lots of gas stations on there). It would tell you that when I travel, I like to eat Chik-Fil-A and that I recently returned home from the Orlando area (from visiting my brother and sis-in-law). It would even tell you where my husband works because of direct deposit from his employer. It would say where he spent a majority of his time, for sure!
Isn’t it amazing what our bank statements say about us? What does yours say about you?
Where do you spend your time and money, and do those things line up properly with what God values? Do they line up with His purpose for your life? Undoubtedly, it’s not going to be identical to mine – or anyone else’s. If God has a purpose for your life, could that tie in with how you spend your time and your money? If any of what I’ve said rings true with you, please question how you spend your time or your money and ask the Lord if it’s how He would have you to spend it.
Tip #4: Ask the Lord to help you live intentionally – to ALIGN YOUR LIFE AND YOUR SCHEDULE TO HIS VALUES. This is a physical step.
It is great to FOCUS on what really matters in life, but if we don’t PURSUE those things or actually DO ANYTHING about what we’ve discovered, then all that time was spent for nothing.
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
– James 1:23-25 (NKJV)
Ask yourself this question, “Does my SCHEDULE line up with my VALUES?” If you put a lot of value on your loved ones, do you spend a lot of time with them? If you put a lot of value on rest – we all know it’s good for us – do you spend some of your time resting? If you put a lot of value on your health, do you fuel your body properly and get some kind of exercise? I know I’ve said I value those things – but my schedule hasn’t always reflected that – much like my bank statement reflects how I spend my time and money. So, does your schedule line up with your values?
So often, we get caught up in the rush of life, and we don’t stop to question the motives behind our actions. Last year at my church, my pastor came up with a church motto, “Live, Love, Share.” The “Live” portion referred to “Living Life Intentionally.” He encouraged us to question how we spend our time and attention, our money, and our talents. To be intentional about everything – even down to what we eat and drink!
So as I made my New Year’s Goals (I don’t do “Resolutions” because I’m not resolute about the things I need to change – which is why I haven’t changed them yet…) for this year, I knew I needed to stop drinking Dr. Pepper. I actually typed in my Wunderlist app: “Kick the Doctor Out” in reference to it. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit I was a Dr. Pepper addict, I’m not sure. I do know I had one wherever I went, and if I didn’t have one, I stopped somewhere to buy one.
We all know soda isn’t good for us, and yet we drink it anyway. Let me rephrase! I knew soda wasn’t good for me, and yet I drank it anyway. I knew I needed to exercise, but I sat in my chair every evening after dinner anyway. I knew for years that I needed to get back to God but I ignored the call from Him anyway. Why is it that I ignored what I knew was correct? Even worse, it was for my own good! Now, maybe you’ve never drank a soda and you work out for hours each day. Good for you!
I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this, though, there’s something that you need to stop ignoring if you’re going to allow God to start Breaking the Busy in your life. It might be to align your life and schedule to what God values and what He wants for you.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV)
I’ve always been a bit of a reader/researcher. So when I looked up in my Blue Letter Bible app what it meant to be “gentle and lowly in heart,” I realized that gentle meant meek – a word with a lot of confusion around it. Being meek just means being submissive to the Lord and having a mild temperament. Those two things are not bad – even though we think of meek as timid. Lowly in heart means humble in heart, free from pride. Also, not a bad character quality!
Want to know what my takeaway is from that description? Jesus isn’t the person who acts smarter than I am to insult my intelligence. He knows I need to learn from Him and He is humble in teaching me. His WORDS MADE THE WORLD – He knows everything – but He doesn’t brag about it to push us away. He understands our daily struggles and He loves us anyway.
“For we do not have a High Priest [Jesus] who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-15 (NKJV)
Everybody needs help sometimes. Everybody needs Jesus ALL THE TIME. A full life is a great thing, but is what you’re doing leading you and your loved ones closer to the life you’ve envisioned for yourself? What about the life that God has envisioned for you?
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)
Pray that He will help you to FOCUS on what’s most important to Him – the people and responsibilities He has given to you, the vision He has given you – and then pray to have the fortitude required to PURSUE the changes He wants to make in you. He wants to help you! He wants to give you the wisdom and the determination to get out of debt. He wants to help you find balance in your life and your busy schedule. If you’re not living the healthiest of lives, He wants to help you with that too! His guidance may just make your life easier by weeding out the unnecessary – the little things that add up to a lot. It might be that listening to His direction today may propel you toward your destiny!
Whatever it is, the Holy Spirit is whispering – and it’s for your benefit. Please pray and see what He would have you change in your focus and in your life as you wait on a whisper from Him. Remember, He wants to break the busy in your life because He cares about the little things because the little things eventually add up to greater things.
Want to read my very first post? It’s called Why “Waiting on a Whisper”?