Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: rest

Write Stuff Wednesday Interrupted

living roomNormally, this is the day I feature a writing quote. It’s something to inspire, encourage, or challenge us to become better writers. Of course, it ties into a faith lesson. By the Book is the place where a love of God and good books meet. All of my posts from the writing focused ones on Wednesdays to the book reviews on Saturdays and the character interviews on Mondays work to bring these passions of my life together in a way that is hopefully helpful and meaningful to readers.

I try to stay consistent. Every article on blogging and writing preaches consistency. Knowing what to expect from the blogs you’re following is great. If I like a particular feature, I want to know when I can expect more of the same. But I have a confession to make.

Hello. My name is Heather Greer, and I failed at consistency this week. I didn’t read a book this week. That’s highly unusual. I have a library full of To Be Read books on my tablet. I blog book reviews. One of the requirements to do book reviews is to read books. Sure, I can grab an old favorite to write about every now and then, but I try to make sure my reviews feature fairly recent releases. Not finishing a book during the week hinders my ability to do that.

I didn’t post a review on Saturday. Friends from church came and laid my living room floor, which looks great by the way. They were done by early evening, and I had plenty of time to write a review. But I didn’t. Ten hours of cleaning, helping lay floor (even though my contribution was only helping pull staples out of the floor), and having people in my house wore me out. I didn’t have it in me to write a review.

I also didn’t post on Monday. It was a holiday from my nine to five job. I spent the morning grilling my family’s meals for the rest of the week, after all it would be a shame to waste good, hot charcoal once you’ve got the grill lit. I spent time with my elderly grandmother who was having trouble remembering why my parents weren’t home. It helped her to have someone to eat lunch with and to take her to buy orange juice and bread. Oh, and I wrote about 5,000 words on Grasping Hope. I thought about stopping to do my post, but I have a deadline with the publisher if the book is going to be ready for its March release date.

Being inconsistent wasn’t easy. Every time I thought about my missing posts, I suffered blogger’s guilt. Is that a thing? If not, it should be. Saturday I consoled myself with the idea that I would post on Sunday. I didn’t, but I did tell myself I would do it on Monday. We know how that turned out. I felt the same guilt on Monday, but my progress on my book eased my conscience.

As I considered my posting failures, the idea that I had become a slacker nagged in the back of my mind. I don’t want to be a slacker. I want to be productive. Today, as I considered what my post should cover, I knew my focus should be my blogging struggle. But it should do more than chronicle my failures. I needed to encourage too.

I don’t think I’m the only one who occasionally struggles with being productive. Maybe you’ve had an off week and feel a little bit like a slacker yourself. For me, these slacking tendencies affect my writing because it’s my ministry. I don’t know what ministries you’re involved in, but I’d be willing to bet whatever they are, that’s where your slacker tendencies show up. Ministry takes a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. Throw life into the mix (especially if you’re dealing with outside work, kids, or family issues), and it seems like you’re on a never-ending roller coaster ride suffering from motion sickness without the help of Dramamine. It’s exhausting.

I know I said I was going to encourage. Hang in there. It’s coming. The good news is God didn’t intend us to go 24/7 without a chance to care for our own needs. He didn’t rest on the seventh day of creation because He was tired. He rested to set an example. When Jesus was on earth ministering to the masses, scripture says there were times He needed to get away by Himself to pray. He was taking time to make sure He stayed strong spiritually, and He, too, was setting an example for us. It points to the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3. “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”. I think passage could include something like a time to review books and a time to lay floors with friends, a time to post and a time to write on your book, a time to minister to others and a time to minister to your family.

It’s not an excuse to stay in a place of slacking off. It’s not downplaying the importance of staying consistent. But it is an escape from ministry guilt (also not a term, but I think it should be), when it’s time for that much needed rest and recharging of our emotions, minds, and spirits. Sometimes, other things need to come first for a short time. We need to take care of ourselves to continue doing what God is calling us to do. So, take your break when needed, and then return to your ministry with a fresh energy and focus. It’s okay. A brief respite doesn’t make you a slacker.

By the Book: When was the last time you were proactive about taking care of own emotional, spiritual, and physical needs?

Doing Nothing

Today, I did nothing. I didn’t clean my house. I didn’t read the book I intended to finish and blog about. I didn’t do laundry. And until this very moment, I didn’t write a word. I did nothing.

I guarantee next week won’t be this way. In addition to my 8-5 job, I’ll finish preparations for the Faith’s Journey Book Launch party, bake several batches of cookies for the event, and complete all wife and mother related activities. Creating trivia night questions for a mission trip fund-raiser is on the back burner until the launch is over. That will demand all my time for the weeks after the launch.  Finishing lesson material for the camp I direct every summer will wait until the weeks after I finish the trivia night questions. Sometime, in the middle of it all, I need to complete the sequel to Faith’s Journey.

There were plenty of things I could have done today. Anything from cleaning my house to working on the sequel and all the activities in between. Instead, I chose to ignore every possible activity.

I’m tempted to feel guilty over wasted time. It would be easy to stress over the things I didn’t check off my to-do list. But I’m not going to. It wouldn’t help anyway. The time is gone. It won’t come back. Tomorrow is another day. With its beginning, I will rejoin the masses and be a productive member of society. But I refuse to feel bad about today’s lack of industriousness.
Days when we don’t cater to a never-ending list of demands are needed. They work as a sort of reset button for our minds and bodies. We were created to need rest. In Genesis, God gave us the example of rest when He rested on the seventh day. He didn’t do it because He was tired. He did it, in part, to show us the importance of a day of rest. And the need to escape the noise and busyness doesn’t end with our minds and bodies. The example extends into our spiritual lives as well.

Ministry requires our time and energy. Whatever area of ministry we find ourselves in, no matter how much we love it, it can push us to our limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can also drain us spiritually. When we expend energy, it needs replenished. When our bodies burn calories, we have to replace them with more. Constant attention to our own spiritual life is necessary to ministering in a way that honors God. Through worship and fellowship with other believers, listening to pastors and teachers, and daily prayer and time in God’s word, we stay connected to the source of spiritual replenishment. But there are times when the ministries we are part of take more out of us than usual. In those times, and even before those times if we are wise, we will remove ourselves from the busyness and focus only on being with God. Just as He gave us the example of physical rest, God has given us the example of spiritual rest.

Jesus’ ministry on earth took place in a relatively short time span. He went from unknown son of a carpenter to healer, teacher, and miracle worker with the turning of water into wine. Crowds followed Him everywhere. Everyone needed something from Him. Those who didn’t follow Him in awe, followed Him in attempt to discredit Him. Even when the masses weren’t right beside Jesus, the disciples were.  And they needed instruction as much as anyone else in the crowd, maybe even more so since they would serve as the leaders of the church after His ascension.

Jesus was God made man. He had the same needs we all experience. He knew exhaustion. He knew frustration. He knew how to handle it when the demands became too much. Luke 5:16 tells us, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Other references to Jesus’ examples of solitude for spiritual renewal can be found in Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, and Mark 1:35. At the most demanding time in His ministry, when Jesus was preparing to give His life for us, He prayed. Though some of the disciples went to the garden with Him, Jesus chose to go off on His own once there. He poured out His heart to His Father in solitude, and He found the strength to do what needed to be done.

As we give of ourselves in ministry, can we expect to need times of quiet solitude with God any less than Jesus?

By the Book: When was the last time you got away from the busyness of ministry and spent time simply being in God’s presence? Why is giving ourselves permission to do nothing in our daily lives and ministry hard at times? What can we take away from the examples of rest that God has given us in scripture?

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