Posts Tagged ‘overwhelmed’


God lays out the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry


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I have always been one to point at Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and justify my lack of Martha skills.  Clearly, Jesus liked Mary’s idea better, right?  He even said so!  Well, I’d like to think I can hold onto that day in and day out but I really don’t think Jesus quite meant for that.  Just look at Easter time.  We all want to worship Jesus on this most important day of the Christian calendar, but if I’m stuck in prayer and my Bible all day who is going to bake the ham, set the table, and run the sweeper?  I need my Martha to balance my overwhelming Mary-mindedness.

Everyone knows that if you want to improve your game, you play with others who are better than you.

Housecleaning has never been my strong suit.  If you want to be the next Martha, don’t watch me.  It’s not that I don’t know how.  It’s that it is not my favorite thing to do.  I can always seem to find something more “urgent” to attend to.  I don’t feel like I’m very good at it.  I’ve never really been taught about how to be a good stay at home mom.  Has anyone, really?  I mean, unless your mother is a Martha, the answer is probably no.  In short, obtaining the discipline needed to keep up on daily housework is difficult for me.  (Let me just add that I thank God every day that my mom spent more time with me than with her feather duster.)

Nevertheless, when the shoe closet begins to overflow with too small shoes and I find myself picking hordes of dog hair off of my tights after sitting on the couch, I start to freak out.

I got to thinking about this adult life long issue and I consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, I have never really given housework my all.  And don’t get me wrong, I definitely do not think it is the most important thing…obviously.  If it is between reading a storybook to my kids or teaching them about the Bible, I will drop the mop faster than you can say Dr. Seuss.  But, if I am honest, our home is quite possibly the whole of the world around them. If I do not serve them well in it, I am not serving them well.

I am reminded of a home economics hospitality class I attended a few years ago.  Afterward, I was anxious and excited to try new ideas and wow my family with special napkin folds, new recipes, and unique organization.  I had been taught some basic housewarming ideas from an experienced expert and she was, believe it or not, excited about housework.

It got me to thinking about how sometimes we lazy humans just need a good example.  We don’t need more condescending voices telling us how we must do thus and so better or how miserably we’re failing.  We already know that part.  We don’t need another 12 step guide to the galaxy.  On the contrary, we often need an expert to simply take the time to show us how; give us some fresh, new ideas on how to go about it; exemplify doing that unappealing “job” in a very appealing and energetic way.  We need someone to help our perspective on the given task from “I have to” into “I get to” do this thing.  Yeah, adults need pep talks, too.

When I think of how many people think about their spiritual life like I think about my housework, it saddens me.  I compare my notes.  I hear so many Christians say things like, “I don’t read the Bible because I don’t understand it or get anything out of it” or  “I wish I could trust God and stop worrying about everything.”  Many people seem to feel overwhelmed and defeated before they even begin on the road to real growth and maturity – just like me in the toy-strewn living room.

  When anxiety, anger, frustration, impatience and spiritual dryness begin to take their toll like old shoes and dog hair, we know we need to go to God some way.  But how?

I have learned that if I am going to clean and beautify my home effectively, I’m going to have to do it one room at a time.  Step by step; begin at the beginning; build a foundation upon the basics I already know and then get more advanced.  If we’re dealing in spiritual terms that means one prayer at a time, one verse at a time, being purposeful to spend time with strong, experienced, mature believers, watching them, asking advice and taking it, gleaning from their wisdom, asking questions, studying their spiritual disciplines and then doing our own.

One thing I should mention is that the lady who taught the class on hospitality was not only very excited and interested in her craft – she was also very willing and available to share it.  Helping other Christians grow in their love for the Lord requires more than a good example.  It requires openness, transparency, and willingness to sacrifice our own time in order to share our gifts with others.  I believe this is the single most important trait of any good leader.

My husband owns a specialty car garage and he is an expert.  He is not only an expert, though.  He loves his trade.  He shares his trade.  He answers questions constantly, makes time for every customer and tours them around showing them what he does, how he does it, and why he does it these very particular ways.  That is why he is successful.  He gives others a sense of belonging and excitement about what he is doing.

Back to my housework, though.  A few years removed from my Martha in the flesh experience, I am back to square one.  No one goes to a one time class and becomes an expert and let me tell ya, the thrill wears off.  I need a boost.  I look up hospitality on the internet.  I ask friends for fresh ideas.  I scour pinterest.  What it really comes down to, though, is whether or not I’m willing to give it my all.  If the answer is no, I will stay stalled, frustrated, and overwhelmed by that which I have no real desire to accomplish.  I have to actively push in to the things I’d rather pull out of sometimes simply because they are the right things.

I hope if you are spiritually stalled, you will do the same.  Ask yourself if you have really given it your all and do not be surprised how much better at it you are than you originally thought when you do.

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