Our lives have gotten so cluttered up with things we think we “should” do, we can’t figure out what we were meant to do.
Setting boundaries in our lives is the only way to ensure we stay healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Jesus Himself set boundaries around His time. One of my favorite stories is in Mark 4:35-40.
That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”[And for some reason, in my mind, He then groggily laid back down on His cushion and went back to sleep.]
Here’s what is so great to me about this passage: Jesus sees that there is work to be done. He sees the crowd. He knows people need to be healed, demons need to be cast out, and lessons need to be taught. But He still tells His disciples to get in the boat, and once there, He falls asleep. Yes, the needs of the people are urgent, and their requests (or cries) for healing must have been compelling, but Jesus knows that He needs to stop and rest.
If even Jesus needs to stop and rest in the midst of a chaotic world, with all of the important things He has to do, don’t you think we need rest, too?
I think we need to follow His example and set boundaries on our time, in order to do live lives full of what we were meant to do, not what we think we’re supposed to do.
As my friend Christine often says to me, “You don’t burn out doing the right things. You burn out because of what you don’t do.” We can say no to nonessentials in order to do lots of great things in our lives. We can work all day and all night doing what God calls us to do. But without adding in time to connect with Him and others regularly, we will burn out even on good activities.
1. Add in time to stay connected to God through prayer and Scripture
One of the most beautiful reminders I have of the importance of spending intentional time with God is found in Matthew 14. John the Baptist has just been beheaded, and Jesus wants to be alone, so He retires to a private place to grieve. But the crowds hear that He is there and follow Him. He has compassion on them and heals the sick among them. Then He performs the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. And Scripture tells us this:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray… alone.
Once again we see Jesus leave the crowd, with work still to be done, to take care of what is important. He knows He needs to connect to His Father, to pour out His heart to Him, to rest in the comfort of His arms as He grieves the loss of John the Baptist. He doesn’t rush around to fix everything for everyone. He could have — He is God, after all. But He is also a human being who needs to spend time alone with God.
We too must add into our lives what is important to the well-being of our souls.
I knew I had to learn to become a morning person and get up to pray and have quiet time before the kids woke up and the hurricane of morning activity in the household started. So I began to wake up earlier every day to pray and read my Bible.
It still hurts when my alarm goes off so early, and I need two cups of coffee to get going, but when I stay connected to God and prioritize that time, I am more likely to spend the rest of my day focused on the important instead of the urgent. There’s no right or wrong way to spend time alone with God each day. I remember in the early days of my faith, I heard that I should spend twenty minutes a day having a “quiet time” with the Lord. But later in life I met a woman who told me she never used the words “quiet time” to describe the time she spent connecting with God each day. Instead she calls it “unhurried time with the Lord.” I love the picture that paints. It’s not rushed, it’s intentional, it’s purposeful, and it’s meaningful. Exactly what staying connected to God through prayer and Scripture should be like.
2. Add in time to connect with others
We have to be intentional about connecting with others, including our spouse, our children, and our friends. It’s easy to allow our work, even our work for the Lord, to keep us from purposefully connecting with those we love.
Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus spent time with those He loved. He spent weeks on end traveling with His disciples. Sure, they did ministry together. They even performed miracles together. But Jesus also went to weddings. He visited His mother and brothers. He hung out with His great friend Lazarus and Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. (Of course, He had to raise Him from the dead first…) Jesus was a man who not only understood the importance of spending time with those He loved, He modeled it throughout His time on earth.
3. Add in time to take care of yourself
Breaking busy also means adding in space, time, and energy to take care of yourself. Just as you would make an appointment to go to the doctor, make appointments during the week to exercise, to read that book you have been putting off, to take a bubble bath, or even just to lie on your bed and stare at the ceiling.
You have permission to take care of you because the world needs what only you can bring to it. Your colleagues, your family, they need you to be who you were created to be, and you were not created to be overstressed and overbusy.
Are you doing things today that are urgent? Or important? When we put every choice through that filter, we are able to prioritize how to spend our time instead of living a life of crazy busy. We have to start breaking busy before the busy breaks us.
Watch the Video for Breaking Busy
Adapted by Alli Worthington from Breaking Busy, copyright Alli Worthington.
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Do you think of Jesus taking care of Himself by resting? That may not be what immediately comes to mind about Jesus and yet it’s true! If He needed to rest and spend concentrated, unrushed time with His Father, how much more do we need to do the same? Come join the conversation on our blog about resting so we can do what matters most and be with the people we love. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily