What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
When I first started writing this blog, I made a promise to myself that I would write an entry every month. But alas, I have broken my promise already! Not only that—with more than half of October gone, I missed the date by a wide margin! Where did the time go?
Like many people I know, I was just too busy.
I lead a weekly high school Bible study, and for the last month we have been studying spiritual disciplines: practices that take us deeper in our faith in order to help us become more like Christ. The first discipline we studied was self-care. (Yes; this truly is a spiritual discipline.) 1Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple, for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Both the girls and I discussed our struggles with self-care. We all agreed that it is hard to care for our minds and bodies when the world around us is clamoring for our time and attention. The girls have school, tests, and college applications; I have work, family commitments, and several volunteer positions. At the end of the day, all we want to do is watch TV or sleep, but those are just Band-aid solutions. The true anecdote is Jesus. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
So this week I spent some quiet time just sitting in the presence of God. Ten minutes one day, twenty the next. I can’t say the downtime cured me of my habit of busy-ness, but it certainly made me more aware of the problem. In the quiet, I was content to watch trees give up their leaves with the autumn wind, to hear birds chirp a dialogue known only to themselves, and to witness two foxes chase and nip at each other in our backyard. Those minutes of quiet time calmed my restless spirit and centered my thoughts. When I returned to work, I found I felt refreshed and peaceful, better equipped to handle the people and tasks ahead—and I’m sure my co-workers and husband found me a bit more pleasant to be around.
In her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun writes, “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” When you look at it that way, self-care is required to do God’s work sufficiently. I will be no use to others if I am not good to myself first.
This world is not easy, and the road of life is fraught with detours and promises of better routes. In our haste to get things done, we speed up, look for shortcuts, and rely on technology and caffeine to get us through. We forget that the creator of the universe has a plan for us and that we were created to be in communion with Him, to seek Him, and to rest in Him. He alone is capable of filling our gas tank when the gauge says “empty.”
So instead of discussing self-care with the girls next week, we’re going to practice it by participating in a yoga class together. I pray it will be fun, relaxing, and inspirational, but most of all, I pray that we all become more aware of God’s holy presence living in each of us.
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS Heaven on Earth by Stars Go Dim.
Lyrics: “Help me move when I should move. Help me rest when I should rest.”