O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. Psalm 131
Turning 61 has given me perspective. I have lived through so many seasons of difficulties, illnesses, phases of children's lives, financial crisis, car wrecks, friendship difficulties, miscarriages, teenagers, depression--
as well as celebrations, accomplishments, family memories, traditions, loving and being loved, cooking a gazillion meals, staying up too late for thousands of nights, by having precious moments nursing babies, listening to the secrets of inner-most-hearts, traveling and memorable ministry moments, God's hidden and constant faithfulness, moonlit nights---well you get it.
Life never stops and issues never cease--one goes away and another comes.
But there have been times when I did not carry the heavy burdens well.
Part of this was God's stretching my capacity, shaping my character, trusting me with tests of faith so difficult it was hard to breathe. But, I wish I had known that no matter how hard, He would take me through, little by little and that I would still live, even in times I thought I would certainly crater. If only I had sung a little bit more and rested my heart, even when my schedule and body had no rest.
Then there were so many times when the busyness of life--ear infections, 4 children, thousands of sleepless nights, no baby-sitters or support systems to alleviate the stress--but somehow, I lived. God had confidence in my future when I could not see beyond the next day.
But when I would try to carry myself through these burdensome places, I created even more stress for myself, but not just learning to yield, every day, the burdens and questions and insecurities that seemed so overwhelming. He who has shepherded thousands of years of humans through all possible crisis, is able to carry me securely through the times I have been given to live.
I have noticed that when I am too busy and have taken responsibilities on my shoulders that only God can or should carry, I become harsher. When I am too busy and have overcommitted, I lose a love for the things that are normally important to me. I care less for the lost; have little patience for my children; tend to see people as irritating (What was that driver in that car thinking? Can't believe anyone would drive that way! or "That lady was soooooo slow in the check out line at Walmart!)
God becomes a distant thought that I glance toward with guilt thinking He must be disappointed with me because I just haven't had time for Him, but I have just been so busy.........
Fretting is also a part--Fretting about money, life, family, children, church, ministry, duties, Christmas, gifts, housework, burdens--fretting, fretting--taking so much energy, so much thought life---and the Psalms say, "Fret not, it leads only to evil doing." (Psalm 37:8)
And then I tend to become cynical. "I do so much, and there is no one to help." And of course, "If I don't do it or take responsibility, no one else will."
It is so easy to begin to live a works oriented life, and then to think without me, things will fall apart. Then I become weary. Then I say, "Lord, don't you care that I am drowning?!" or "Tell Mary to come in here. I am doing all the work myself!"
God is not biting His nails wondering if I am going to get it all done. He is not the great abuser in heaven just waiting to give me more than I can handle. And so, slowly, I have had to learn, if I am consistently feeling too much stress, too much weight on my shoulders, I have not given it to Him and or, I am attempting to do things that He has never asked or expected me to do.
Jesus did not go into the world Himself. He stayed local, humble, quiet, and yet His message, in God's hands, changed the world.
"I am humble and meek. Learn from me." Again, I learn from this verse.
If He was humble and not in a hurry and still accomplished God's will--and not all the blind and sick were healed, then I can trust these mysteries into His hands.
A good father would not expect his little child to carry the load. He would carry the load and the fragile child.
I find I have so much on my plate to do, that the only thing I can do is re-access; cut back; only focus on the agenda that He has set.
I am old enough to have lived through so many women who burned out--in ministry, in homeschooling, in jobs, in ideals---burn, burn, burn and then all that is left is ashes. It is a cultural value to be busy and to justify ourselves by our activities.
Last Spring, I met with a young woman. She said, as many young women have said, "Sally, God is just opening so many doors for me, I just have to be a good steward of my opportunities." (as her exhausted teen daughter was pushing her toddler in a stroller behind her, and complaining that her mom just never had time for her.) This happens to me a lot--young women who have stars in their eyes from money that can be made, audiences that can be found, numbers that can build up.
Quitting ideals because of circumstances
I have never had more opportunities come my way as now, but I have to monitor what I see going on in my heart and soul, which are constantly drained daily for years on end. If I do not have a full heart, I know I will be tempted to compromise ideals that I have always believed. Culture gives us permission to quit, to stop and compromise ideas and so, I become convicted that I need to cut back. I am pulling back from expectations of others in order to keep being able to walk with God and please Him. . Pulling back from stress. And simplifying. Quieting my soul.
He needs to be at my center. I need to have peace and quiet in my soul. I can say "no!" no matter how many people there are who seem to need me, so that I can still and quiet my soul. 'When I wait on Him, I see His power, His provision, His answers--always so much better than me, tiny, little me, trying to play the role of God, when all He wanted me to do was to seek Him, rest in Him and listen to His voice.
So many times the examples He left me--David and Goliath; Joshua marching around a wall; a Jewish nation born from a single child; the fish and the loaves, the oil that was enough every day to make one more loaf.
I am a baby to God, his toddler, "like a weaned child, I will not involve myself in things too difficult for me."
God is in control.
He does not want to abuse me. He does not want me to be neurotic and angry. He wants me to be at peace--sleeping in the boat in the midst of the storm, because I am "leaning on my Father's strong arms."
And so, I am waiting on Him before I venture out--the opportunities will always be there, but now is a good time to pace myself, to still my soul, to seek to live more simply, to say yes to my God-given priorities and no to all that will take me away. I could do lots more, but then I would become crazy and grumpy and tight and hard to live with, and living by my own flesh and striving and works--and I cannot hold His hand and behave in such a manner all at the same time.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.Psalm 62: 1
So, today, on this very busy day, I know that my soul will only find rest in Him--His will, His way!
What are your stresses? Your fears? Your heartbreak or burdens? Have you kept them in perspective in light of eternity?
You probably have many more decades of life to live through--don't forget that this is just a season, a moment in time. Leave it in His hands and learn at every turn in the road, and like a weaned child, rest.