Last week I talked about us being like a sponge and when life squeezes us whatever we are filled with is what will spill out. But, what happens when a sponge dries out?
Once it’s been wet and then dries out a sponge becomes stiff and abrasive. It’s actually a pretty useless item until it gets wet again.
I can tell you from experience I know what it feels like to be a dry sponge. To be all stiffened up with nothing left to give. I know how harsh and abrasive I can be when this happens and how all the fruit grown—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control—become raisins and prunes.
It is a very desert place to be. And it’s definitely not a place where I like who I am very much.
Have you ever been there? So tired and stiff that even doing one more thing makes you feel like you might break in half? Longing for a rest that never seems to come? Working frantically, but never thinking you accomplish much? Desiring to be different but never finding the time to figure out how?
One of the mistakes I’ve made that dries me out is forgetting to stay in the stream of God’s filling while I’m giving. Instead, I get filled up, and then I get out from that stream, and I try to fill other people’s cups, pour into other people’s lives, from just what I’ve soaked up in my spongy self. Of course the result is that I get all squeezed dry and useless.
Jesus reminds us in John 15:4 how necessary it is to remain in that stream of God’s filling. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” If I break off the limb of an apple tree, it will no longer grow fruit for me and what fruit may be on the branch will wither and die. It is just like this for us. We are that branch that must stay connected to the source of nutrients in order to have fruit produced in our lives.
Another mistake I’ve made is ignoring the boundaries that God put in place to protect me. Talking about Sabbath seems an archaic and old-fashioned idea anymore in our culture. Truly, however, the call to remember the Sabbath day is as much about God knowing we needed rest (Mark 2:27) as it is about remembering to worship God. We are not meant to run at full speed 24/7. The examples of burnout and breakdowns that come from trying to keep a pace that allows no room for rest, fill our news-feeds daily. Parts of a Sabbath rest include–a 24 hour period that works for you, and which includes recreation, time with family and/or friends, and spending time in one way or another worshiping God. Taking seriously the boundary of a Sabbath rest will keep your sponge filled and will truly bless the work you seek to do throughout the entire week.
Finally, I have learned to be intentional about prioritizing my life.Three years ago I had to make a choice: continue as I had that whole year previous, getting up at 5 am, going to bed at midnight and running full speed all day in order to handle everything that needed to get done with my family and my job, or…walk away from work. For some that might not seem like a hard thing to do, but I have never seen myself as someone who didn’t work. I love working, and I had never in a million years thought I would be a stay at home mom–not even that really, more like a housewife since both my kids are in school. However, I had to choose–live crazy trying to ‘have it all’ or, be intentional about choosing the kind of life I wanted to lead and the person I wanted to be for my family.
There is so much good that we can do with our lives, but often in our quest for the ‘good’ we are distracted from seeing the ‘best.’ The world makes us feel like we need to do more, have more, be more, so we scurry around in our own hamster wheels—running in circles but getting nowhere. What if instead, we did less, but did it better? What if we chose to get off the wheel and focused on what was best? I chose to walk away from work and it hasn’t been easy, but it has been best!
I hope you keep you spongy self if the stream of God’s love, that you take time to rest weekly and that you are able to be intentional about prioritizing your life to find God’s best for you!