Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time for a Time Out

Last night, just as we were heading out the door for Bible study, my husband announced that he thought we should stay home because we needed a time out. Not the "you've been bad, go sit in the corner" time out, but the kind a coach calls during an intense game. This kind of time out is not just to refresh the players and give them a chance to breathe -  it is most importantly a moment for the players to refocus and figure out, with the coach, a strategy before returning the game. So that is what we did.

You see, we've both been feeling rather (understatement) overwhelmed lately in regards to what it looks like to really live a life focused on God and what it means to really follow Christ and how to really love others. We've been frustrated and burnt out and going in a million directions all at once. As a result, we have been much less effective than we could be.

So we took a time out and spent our evening talking and sharing our hearts and looking up Bible verses and writing down ideas and praying. We talked about our spiritual strengths and how they shape the way we can best serve God. We talked about our talents and how those can best be used to serve God. We talked about where we are right now - with our jobs, our neighborhood, our church, our social sphere - and looked at ways that we can honor God in those areas daily.

We realized how caught up we've been in looking for something "huge" to do for God all the while neglecting the daily moments that can bring God glory. Those daily moments - the daily laying down of our lives, our desires, our preferences, our attitudes for the benefit of someone else and for the glory of God - that is a huge thing. While the Bible is full of "big stories" of people doing (and God asking them to do) huge things, it is also bursting with verses on how to live daily in a way that pleases the Lord (don't quarrel, honor those in authority, work as unto the Lord, speak words that will benefit those who hear them).

We also came to the admission that serving God does not look the same for everyone. He created us all differently, with different circumstances, personalities, talents and spiritual gifts. Whatever circumstances - rich, poor, Africa or America; Whatever personalities - talkative, quiet or bold; Whatever talents - art, cooking or building; Whatever spiritual gifts - teaching, evangelism, encouragement; Whatever pieces God has put into each of us, the way in which those pieces come together as service to God will vary for every person. So if I am consumed with guilt over not living my life exactly like the missionary with fourteen adopted kids, or the guy who sold everything to move to the Ukraine and build an orphanage, or the author who challenges everyone to live radically - I could be seriously missing out on the opportunities that God has put in my path for me to fill.

Do I think that, regardless of everybody's "whatevers", we should still care for those in need and live off of less so that others can simply live?  You bet. (1 John 3:17-18)

Do I think that we should still live radically with everything we have and everything we are in order to bring glory to and know better the the God of the Universe? Absolutely. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Do I think that this looks the same for everyone? No, I don't. (Romans 12:3-8)

At time same time, I also have to be on guard because there is great risk in the attitude of "we all have different roles." This mindset can easily lead to a comfortable apathy that avoids truly giving my life over to God. 

Below are just a few specific ways that Devin and I have chosen to honor God and where we have agreed to focus our efforts to serve Him. How this will play out or change as we continue to seek God for direction and as our future as a couple continues to develop, I don't know. But we both feel confident moving forward with the "game plan" we established during out time out last night. 

  • Living frugally in order to give generously 
  • Adoption 
  • Working cheerfully at our jobs, avoiding the "patterns of this world" by not giving into or contributing to negative attitudes and complaining.
  • Treating our clients with respect, love, patience and integrity
  • Giving of our time to reach out to our neighbors and to encourage those God has placed in our lives
  • Influence this culture (Church-goers and otherwise) through the way we live, spend our time and money, and by how we speak about what God is doing in our lives, in order to bring glory to God and in order to draw others to Him
  • Being open to opportunities to give of ourselves - our time, money, possessions, home - whenever they arise.
So that's just a glimpse into how God is putting our pieces together. It is likely very different from the pieces God might be putting together in your life. And I think that's okay, as long as we are all constantly seeking God through prayer and through His Word and asking Him to search our hearts for how we are or aren't truly serving Him. And most importantly, that when He does call us to action, we say YES!
Q4U - What is something you can do daily to bring God glory?


  1. I need a time out...and a nap. Im proud of you. You guys are awesome.

  2. Amen! Amen! Amen Jen!

    We all need to be in tune to God, in His Word, seeking His direction in our own lives. I can get so caught up in trying to sew things to sell so I can have money to give away that I ignore Isabelle and get stressed out and ignore my wifely/motherly/youth pastor's wife duties! And I also need to remember that God can use any small obedient thing I do for Him and turn it into something BIG! Sometimes that's even better because we can say, "Look what God did" instead of "Look at how many countries I've affected for Christ!" or "Look at all these sacrifices I've made!"

    And you are so right on when you talked about how the different roles perspective can lead to apathy--like since I am called to be a stay-at-home Mom I can (wrongly) focus completely on Isabelle and ignore all the starving people all over the world. God knows how much we can handle (with His strength of course) and He has a plan mapped out for my life of how He wants to use me. I just want to be completely surrendered and willing to say "Yes" to whatever that is every step of the way.

  3. CAN YOU STINKING READ MY MIND?!? Wow, Jen. This is EXACTLY what I've been thinking lately (and then some!). Every last bit of it. I've been meaning to blog about it (but had no idea how to convey what was racing through my head). Thank you for doing it for me.

    And I love Bethany's comment too. Thank you, girls. Love you!

  4. I really love the list of things that you can do; it inspires me to create our own in our family and put into words the things we know God is calling our family to do. It's so easy to get caught up in what others are doing and allowing that feeling of inadequecy to sneak in...which often leads to doing nothing.

  5. I think you have it exactly right. I can't help but believe you and your husband are blessings to a lot of folks. You have blessed me in this corner of the world!

  6. I love that - a time out! Great ideas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. You have a wise husband. He has a wise wife. One of the sad ironies of life is that fear of failure can actually lead to failure. Fear can be so debilitating that it shuts down the very energy and passion that drives success. The energy and passion that leads to success can only thrive when we remain faithful in the little things and trust God take care of the big picture.

  8. Hi Jennifer,

    Popping over from Marla's.

    Wow, what a wonderful post! I think my husband and I could use a time out, too. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'd love to link to this post on my blog in tomorrow's post.

    I'm a new follower :)

  9. Exactly what I was thinking as I read Ch. 2 this morning. (And an Amen to Bethany as well and your Dad as well.)

    I need to spend more time getting to know Jesus better.

  10. Let me add that some of the above-mentioned "little things" can, in fact, be pretty big in our eyes. Case in point, adoption.

  11. I need a time out and a nap too! :)

  12. You read my mind and said what has been swimming in my head...small steps small steps!


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