Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house
and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Mark 1:35, NIV
Did you know that every day is an opportunity for a new beginning?
This summer I took the opportunity to break away from blogging.
Prior to the start of the summer, I was feeling rather overwhelmed with many things on my plate and an intense feeling of needing to get them all done.
Realizing that this anxiety was an alert to something deeper, I asked a couple of friends to pray for me.
After some time of seeking and soul searching, I realized that what I needed was not to get more done this summer but rather to do less—to pause and pursue a slower pace.
But I knew that doing this was not going to be easy, especially with my family’s already full schedule.
After some heart-to-heart talks with my husband, he and I determined that we needed to make some adjustments. We both needed to step back from our agendas and activities and make time with God and with each other a priority.
Many years ago, when I was in college, one of my professors shared an illustration. He had a jar on a table, and surrounding the jar were several rocks of different sizes. He asked one of the students if she thought that all the rocks could fit into the jar.
After thinking about it for a bit, she replied, “No, there are too many.”
The professor proceeded to share that they could fit—but only when they were put into the jar in a certain way.
He told us that that if all the small rocks were put in first, the big rocks wouldn’t have any space. But if the big rocks were put in first, then all the smaller rocks would fall perfectly into place around them.
He then told us, “This is how life is.” The rocks represent our priorities. When we take time to address the big rocks (our most important priorities) first, the smaller rocks (our less valued priorities) will fit into our lives as well.
Although I had learned this many years ago, it finally became a reality in my life as my husband and I purposed to give our first priorities first place over the summer.
Rather than being pulled like taffy in many different directions (which is what can easily happen to those of us who are in ministry, not to mention full-time ministry), we were much more prayerful about our involvements and how we used our time.
I love the encouragement that Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop give in their devotional book Take Your Life Back Day By Day. On day 9 they share, “Part of the new life we’ve begun is learning to care about ourselves as well as others. For too long we have believed that we can care for others only at our own expense. But that makes us feel like we are trying to fill someone else’s glass with an empty pitcher. We need God’s help to learn how to balance our caring.” And I must add that we need God’s strength too!
In this day and age, in which “Do more” is our culture’s mantra, my husband and I realized that doing more was actually making us less effective and less available to God and each other.
In his book Inside Job: Doing the Work Within the Work, Stephen W. Smith says, “Although we’re called ‘human beings,’ we place far too much value in ourselves as ‘human doings.’ . . . For life to be good, we must find meaning within ourselves, not outside of ourselves. . . . We must turn to the source of life to find the life we want.”
In turning to the One who is our source of life, my husband and I found that we were not only recharged over the summer but refreshed, revived, and renewed for the new season that is now before us.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the busyness of life and lose sight of those priorities that we should keep as most important.
If Jesus, the Son of God, needed time to break away to solitary places, how much more do we?
Summer may be almost over, but my season of refreshment doesn’t need to end. Each day I have a choice. And so do you.
By taking time to nurture our relationship with God first, our intimacy with God will grow, and His Spirit will fill us and fuel us to face our days and our relationships with freshness and revived faith—thus making each new day the start of a new beginning.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for each new day and the new beginning it provides to pursue You and love others more deeply, in Jesus’ name. Amen.