As a culture we tend to glorify busyness, productivity, expansion and increase, no matter the cost. We celebrate the go-getters, the super-achievers, who are always hustling, bustling, kicking goals, making money and juggling a million hats at once. They run on coffee and never even seem to sleep. Ambition is what gets them up in the morning and adrenaline is what keeps them up at night.
Unfortunately, we rarely mention the high price of running on all cylinders 24/7 and the very real impact of living a life with no margin, no leeway and no rest.
We ignore the effect it has on our health (both physically and mentally) and the toll it takes on those closest to us.
But what kind of life is achieving outward results at the cost of ending up completely spent?
I’ll be the first to admit, I used to be that person (and by default, probably still am). I genuinely find it hard to stop, to relax, do nothing and just be. I’m personally prone to gauging my day on how much I’m ticking off my ‘to-do-list’ and find myself constantly assessing whether I’m keeping up with the plan I’ve created in my head. I used to think holidays weren’t important and taking time off was unnecessary if I was doing what God called me to do.
LITTLE DID I KNOW, THAT STOPPING, RESTING AND living in heaven’s divine RHYTHM was the VERY thing that would HELP ME DO JUST THAT.
Thankfully, over the past year or so I’ve seen a cataclysmic shift in my own life. My goal posts haven’t just moved, they’ve disintegrated completely. My idea of success and fulfilment has shifted dramatically.
These days, for me, success is more about how my life feels at its core, rather than how it appears on the surface.
These days my litmus test of purpose and contentment is connected to questions like:
Am I genuinely carrying peace? Joy? Love? Compassion?
Am I worshipping or working for God out of adoration or obligation?
Am I living in tune with my needs, the needs of others and the heart of God?
Do I have time for the things that really matter or am I pushing the most precious things to the peripheral of my life?
Am I saying yes to all that God asks me to do, not just what I think I should do?
The truth is, for so many years I felt too busy for God, too busy for people and almost too busy for myself. The margin of my life was thin and the slightest addition tipped the scales to breaking point. Working for God, rather than being with Him and enjoying His presence so often took precedence.
Matthew 11:28-30 says this, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)
What a promise, That we would live in the unforced rhythms of grace!
In the same way a song has rests and pauses, our lives are designed to abide in a divine rhythm with both motion and movement. Here are 5 keys that have helped me put this principle into practice. Something I’m still very much learning to do.
1. SLOW DOWN
In a world that glorifies busy, we must be people that learn to actually slow down. We must be people that become fully present, in our faith, our communities and our families. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself rushing, racing, stressing and striving. What a travesty. That we forgo the very the peace Jesus afforded for us. That we would rush through this life at a million miles an hour, only to miss the very gifts that God has given to us.
But there’s so much power in the pause. There’s even a Hebrew word for it, Selah. It’s found 74 times in the Bible and literally means to stop, to pause in His presence.
Psalm 46:10 reminds us, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
EVEN Jesus knew how to stop.
Time and time again, we see that Jesus stopped, left what He was doing and went to be alone with the Lord. Luke 5:16 tells us, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” He was God incarnate. Yet, He stopped to be with the Father. How much more should we?
2. DISCOVER SOLITUDE AND SILENCE
One of the most practical ways we can develop divine rhythms is by discovering solitude and silence.
“Solitude is the practice of being absent from people and things to attend to God. Silence is the practice of quieting every inner and outter voice to attend to God.”
– PETER Scazzero
So often we miss God’s voice, because other things in our lives are simply too loud. The demands of our world pull us in a million directions, and we very rarely turn down the volume. Our days can get so cluttered by distractions that the Holy Spirit’s still small voice simply fades into the background.
Have you ever tried answering a phone call in a crowded restaurant? It’s awkward and cumbersome, and most of the time you end up missing half the conversation. If you want to hear the voice of God, turn down the volume of the world and enter the wide-open space provided through solitude and silence.
THE BEST ADVICE I COULD PROBABLY GIVE YOU, IS PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AND PICK UP YOUR BIBLE.
I reckon my phone is one the biggest blessings and curses in my life. It’s so useful and efficient, yet can be so distracting and time-consuming. I wonder how much revelation we’re missing because we’d rather scroll Instagram for an hour, then read our Bible for a few minutes?
3. PRACTICE THE SABBATH
In one of my favourite books, ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,’ Author Paul Scarzzero unpacks the sabbath in a way I’d never seen before. He talks about the Sabbath not just being about stopping work, but actually slowing down to hear from God, delighting in His presence and contemplating His goodness.
It’s a principle we’ve been attempting to honour in our family. It’s not usually a whole day, but it’s a good chunk of our Friday or Saturday that we intentionally focus on God and each other. Obviously, it’s not done out of any sense of religious obligation, but rather a desire to be with God and enjoy the blessings He’s so freely given.
In the words of Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath. For this reason, the Son of Man exercises his lordship over the Sabbath.”
When we stop and rest, we respect our humanity and the image of God in us.
When we honour the sabbath We respect our limits and demonstrate our reliance on God, not ourselves.
Think about it, even the God who created the universe rested on the seventh day. Let’s follow His example of working from a place of rest.
4. SAY NO
I’ll be honest, I can find it really hard to say no. I’m a recovering ‘people pleaser’ and often bite off more than I can chew. I end up with an overcrowded calendar, then blame others for the way I feel about. It’s a bit of a catch 22. I want to be involved, included, needed and give people my time and my energy, but to do that well, sometimes I actually have to say no.
Not no to my family or God, or the very real responsibilities I have. Like raising my kids, working a great job and living with faith, compassion and convictions. But ‘no’ to the extra things that I often load up on voluntarily.
Sometimes it means saying no to watching a late-night movie instead of getting a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it means saying ‘no’ to that extra social event over the weekend because you won’t end up refreshed come Monday morning. Sometimes it means putting an extra project or passion on the shelf for a period of time because your life just doesn’t have the headspace for it right now.
So often it’s our own internal pressure that drives us to overcommit. So often it’s our own need to perform, to remain likeable, or to get ahead that motivates us to say yes, but we need to live wisely, secure in our identity and within the limits of our humanity.
As believers, We need to say ‘yes’ to the things that really matter and discern the things that we can let go of.
Now, please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Saying no, doesn’t mean denying people’s calls, not doing your job well or neglecting those closest to you. What I’m getting at, is not overcommitting and filling up your calendar with things that aren’t a priority and living more in tune with your needs, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Gauging your ‘water levels’ and having the intention, awareness and courage to make the necessary adjustments.
5. REfUEL and refill
You may have heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Well, it’s true.
You can’t give people what you don’t have. You can’t love and nurture those around you, unless your soul is well nourished, well rested and operating from a place of overflow, not deficit.
John 15 reminds us, “I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So, you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. “I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my word, live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire, and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!
“For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 (TPT)
As we learn to regularly rest, refuel and refill, we end up with more to give. More to give our friends, our families, our communities, our vocations and most importantly, our God.
THE KEY IS to KNOW WHAT’S NEEDED FROM YOU AND WHAT’S NEEDED FOR YOU AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT. – Peter Scazzero
That’s His invitation for every single one of us, to reject busy and live in divine rhythm.
Sabrina Peters is a Christian writer, an avid Sex & Relationships blogger and part of the team at Kingdomcity. She is married to Ben and mother to Liberty & Lincoln. www.sabrinapeters.com.