Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Take Time Tuesdays...


Going to be very honest with everyone ~ I've been tremendously busy this week and needed to finish a major project and I slid in under the wire to do this week's study. I did not spend as much time in the material as I would have liked to. That said, here are my insights:

Backing up to the Preface, I was struck by a couple of things the author shared ~
  • "God invites us to enter into His rest, to receive His peace, and to be still. It doesn't mean that life is not difficult or sometimes overwhelming, but it does mean that we can live with a deep, abiding sense that 'all is well with my soul'."
  • Simplicity is embracing that "a continual growing knowledge and intimacy with God is essential to being able to live a life that can at once be simple but profound enough to confront the recurrent challenges of daily life. Trusting and resting in God grants us inward simplicity that can then lead to an outward simplicity obtained by making wise choices in a complex world."
Wow! The Preface got my attention and it was already breaking down walls and redefining simplicity in a manner that seemed quite foreign to me. How could I live simply in a complex world? Can it really happen? I was hooked and wanted to know more...

"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3, NASB

"We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that. Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ. We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service for His kingdom will be more fruitful. We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ. All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ." Donald S. Whitney

I love this quote by Whitney! It made me stop and think... Why do I want to be a woman of simplicity? Do I want my life to be easier? Do I want more free time for activities that I enjoy? Is it because I feel overworked and I'm just tired? Did I really embark on this study, so I would simplify my life and have less distractions and be enabled to spend more time in my devotion to Christ; that my service would be more fruitful? The quote ends with, "all the reasons" - is this the end result of my reasons?

I would really like to answer a firm YES, but I realized it wasn't true... I'm not sure why I want simplicity. It does sound like a wonderful way to live. "Hi, I'm Joanie and I live a life of simplicity." It might make you jealous... In reality, I am tired. I do want my life to be easier. I do feel overworked and stressed and I want a vacation! But the more I pondered this quote and then worked through the first chapter, I realized how dearly I want simplicity so I can have more time to be devoted to Christ and hopefully become more fruitful in my service to His kingdom works (whatever He has for me to do). Okay ~ that's some major revelation! Shall we continue? Onward ladies...

After getting stopped at the quotes, I then began reading the first chapter with the intent to 'speed' through it and I turned the page, read a little more and then thought to myself, "I'm in big trouble here - so much is speaking to me!"

EMPTY PAGES? Do I have empty pages for God? Empty hours? Empty rooms? More often than not, I find myself caught up in too many worthy activities ~ as the author shares with us. It's only the first chapter and I feel like she's speaking directly to me. Do you feel like she's speaking to you too?

I am guilty of juggling too many worthy activities ~ absolutely guilty and I won't even deny it. And yes, too many activities have taken time away from my relationship with God. The author says, "My concern is that we live in a world where doing, communicating, and possessing so rule our lives that we have allowed even good things to overtake our time and distract from the best." I've accepted good, as being good enough when God has "the best" waiting for me...

Psalm 23:1-3 (from The Message) and on page 15 ~

God, my shepherd!
I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your Word,
You let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Well, this certainly got my attention. In meditating upon Psalm 23, I found (b) in the discussion difficult to answer. What, for you, would be green meadows and peaceful streams? For me, I take those words literally. I want to live in the country where there is peace and quiet and a simpler way of life... Reading these verses from The Message does give me much to consider! He lets me 'catch my breath and sends me in the right direction.' Hadn't thought of it that way before. Hmmmmm. Definitely need to consider this more.

Did any of you struggle with the scriptures regarding "experiencing spiritual rest"?

Psalm 127:1-2
Isaiah 30:15
Matthew 11:28-30

The Isaiah passage hit me the hardest: "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Ouch. I feel like I've learned so much over the years, but now I feel like I've been hit over the head with a 2x4. Why didn't I realize this sooner? I was too busy with worthy activities to focus on my pure devotion to Christ. Well, He has my attention now and I'm hearing the Words He is speaking into my life. I have a feeling my life is going to be making some big changes throughout this study and beyond...

The big question: Why do you think we are not willing or able to receive the Lord's quietness and rest?

For me ~ if I'm not doing then I'm not accomplishing anything. I've even told this to my doctor. My worth, my identity is in what I DO! If I'm spending time resting, I'm not getting things done that need to be accomplished and I feel I have fallen short. Wow! My perspective is really messed up, isn't it? I see I need a RENEWED way of thinking! Thank you Jesus for this study!

The second big question this week: Based on your study, so far, how would you evaluate your life in regard to having a restful spirit and a single-minded pursuit of the Lord? Write down what dulls your senses to His still, small voice and what helps you to hear Him as He leads you along the right path.

Dulling: My attention and energy is invested in too many different directions. It's difficult to give my full focus to one thing. I am irritated by my environment ~ city noise, loud music, commercial airport, aching muscles, etc. Focused on the "negatives" instead of the blessings in each day.

Help: When I spend time in His Word, spending time in His Creation (going for a walk, the beach, the countryside, the mountains) and being surrounded by fellow passionate Christians.

A few final thoughts...

The Message translation of Psalm 46:10 says, "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God." (This grabbed my attention. Did it grab yours?)

Thoughts from an Older Woman ~ "Abiding is not an activity, it is a lifestyle."

This week's study challenged me. It made me think about what my priorities are in life. It made me realize that my motivations may not be from pure sources. It made me want to commit to this journey at a greater level and discover more of what God desires for me and to allow Him to transform my life.

Please leave your comments about what you got out of this week's study and let us know if you created a post on your own blog. (Next week I hope to have a Mr. Linky to make it easier to share your posts.) I'm so looking forward to embarking on this journey with you!

Abundant blessings dear friends!

1 comment:

  1. You did well, my friend....summing up the preface & first chapter...sharing some of your life & asking us good questions. Having just finished two consecutive studies (one on balance in life & the other on the 23rd Psalm) these words are like frosting on the cake or a big AMEN to what I've been studying the past months.

    Ultimately, simplicity is a choice I make and in making it, deliberately eliminate competing and conflicting thoughts, words, and activities - and I make that choice daily and many times a day!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Abundant blessings on your day... Joanie