Now may the God of hope fill you with ALL JOY AND PEACE in believing, so that you will abound in hope BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Romans 15:13 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
How many of us run at a pace that requires caffeinated beverages not as a luxury but, rather, as the gasoline that keeps us fueled for the next trek of the race? From the constant “dings” of the next notification to the “I needs” of family, colleagues, and friends, there are many things vying for our attention and energy. Add in the unexpected challenges, or the tragic, and it is not surprising that we feel drained by the end of the day and exhausted before our feet even hit the floor in the morning! It has been in this hamster’s wheel that I’ve found myself wondering, “What am I missing???”
Looking around, I notice that remote controls, cell phones, cars, computers, and almost every kid toy these days run on some kind of battery. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I wish that I could run on batteries myself. Any time that I am out of energy, health, faith, or hope, I would just get a new set of batteries, and BAM, good as new! Or maybe, I’ll be like a lamp. You know, just plug me in and then I’ll shine brightly for all to see!
Don’t you wish that life were that simple and that joy, peace, and freedom were that easy to replace? Well, as I’m coming to find out, it might actually be that easy! The caveat is that the time commitment for us to “Power Up” is not as quick as replacing batteries. It’s an intentional lifestyle.
Up to this point in my God journey, I have written about things such as capturing thoughts, perspective, waiting, hoping, and God’s goodness. Every single month, what I end up writing about is the lesson that God is patiently teaching me. Recently, God’s lesson has been about focus and trust. The battle has been between living apathetically fatigued, looking only at the impossible mountains life puts in our way, or living in joyful anticipation of the daily moments that we GET TO live out.
The battle is not new to me. There have been many seasons in which it seems like I’m weighted down by some invisible force for no apparent reason. Then, there are other seasons in which I seem to abound with joy and insane energy, independent of circumstances. Interestingly enough, I have noticed some patterns for each season and, yet again, God is enlightening me with a lesson that He taught me several times over the past seven years. It is the lesson that joy and energy abounds by HIS POWERFUL HOPE, and that a willingly surrendered relationship with HIM is all that it takes to refuel in mighty ways!
Sometimes, I wonder how it is possible for God to love me so unconditionally with all of my doubts, fears, and repeated failures. I tell my son the same direction three times, and my own patience is gone! With me, God has to remind me month after month, and year after year, just how much POWER and AUTHORITY I have here in my earthly existence. After all, I have a God who lends me His! It is like the world around me demands that I live in a fearful, depressed, selfish, or angry state. If hope can be taken away, then anything that I can contribute to the world drains as fast as the last minute of a cell phone before it goes black. It is like being joyful and optimistic is considered CRAZY! Then there is God’s Perspective.
God, in His infinite wisdom and love, consistently nudges me out of my comfort zone to a much less restrictive, wide open future that is full of possibilities and opportunities. The more that I resist and try to control the world around me, the more energy I expend. The more I try to figure out the future or pine for the past, the more anxiety and depression weighs me down. Likewise, the more I fight the season God has me in, the more I get busy, overloaded, and tapped-out with the present. On the contrary, the more time I dive in with God to relinquish the title of “Sara Knows Best—CEO of The Future,” the more the pressure lifts off. I exhale. The faster I accept where I am and grapple through it WITH GOD, the more I understand the gifts in each day. It is through intentional time, praise, and gratitude that allows the space for God to fill me back up while HE refuels me with HIS POWER.
So, let’s dive into the first part of the “Power Up Process” that blows batteries out of the water—starting with margin. Margin? Intentional time with God? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Actually, ain’t nobody got time NOT to have that! The first power-up secret is actually to carve out time with God and to rest. The bible says,
“…The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of the people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27 NLT)
I have heard it said that “you always make time for what’s most important.” Well, I tend to make time for what others expect me to do, or for my self-imposed, unrealistic expectations and neglect what is most important—Maddox, self care, God time, rest, etc…. Then, when I would either succumb to a mental breakdown or my body would shut down altogether, I would wonder why God would allow me to be in such misery. Simple answer: He won’t FORCE US to have a relationship with Him, or with ourselves, or with our families. He gave the key in the Bible when he built in a day of rest and made Himself a “refuge” and a “power source.” (Psalm 18:2 and Psalm 19:14 NLT) and God already protected us with the margin we need. For me, my own self-important, self-centered, “life won’t continue without me” subconscious attitude locks me in a cycle of striving for inhuman perfection, still seeking validation, and it is EXHAUSTING!!!
The cure? There are two cures, actually. One is proactive and one is reactive. The reactive approach is to keep locked into a cycle of NO MARGIN and, eventually, you will get to the end of yourself. Your body will be forced to stop; it is painful, and it most often happens when you feel like you have the least time to stop. In this reactive space, you often will take out your frustration or exhaustion on those closest around you. Then, guess what? The enemy wins, deeming you (or at least me) anything but a reflection of Christ—that is, until God graciously forces us to stop by placing our bodies into park until we replace our frantic search for meaning with the Living Water of God.
Do we need to stay in a reactive space before we connect to our Heavenly Power Source? No! We can simply put on our calendars “God Time” or “Push Pause” blocks of time. This proactive approach is like stretching before exercising. You don’t “have to” do it, but the likelihood for injury increases when you don’t prep your muscles. Likewise, blocks of margin prepare your mind, heart, and soul to be open to what God has for us.
For me, I have morning, mid-day, and evening blocks of 5-45 minutes in which I stop, breathe, and connect with my Maker. Sometimes, I will close my eyes and rest for 20 minutes. Other times, I will dive into The Word. On occassion, I exercise or stretch, and still other times, I do something that I want to do. Family time may, or may not, be included in this daily reconnection to God’s provision. Small group, friends, journaling, or simply stopping to sing or be silly are all examples of my ways to enjoy intentional margin. As the weather improves, my margin will begin to shift to sitting outside and admiring the world our God created! Whatever it is, it does not matter as long as you can create space to hear God.
Every time I honor God by pushing pause, three things result. They are not earth-shattering, but they are so powerful that these three things, over time, have become the catalysts for feeling recharged and ready for whatever life has next. When I am connected to My God (my power source) consistently in times of margin, I get:
- Peace and Calm
- Direction and Clarity
- Energy, Patience, and Confidence
When I ignore God as my power source and try to do things non-stop in my own power, I also get three things. When I let doubt and fear rule, I get:
- Agitated and Irritable
- Distracted and Discouraged
Just like that, I can go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Needless to say, I ask God to help me put Him first and TRUST that HE WILL cover what I cannot. It’s funny how, when I actually listen to God and do what He says, I feel like I have been plugged in, recharged, and am ready to go for another round. He says:
“He gives strength to the weary and
increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)
God gives to u so willingly. I simply need to make the time to allow God to strengthen me and lend me His power! And, as if that wasn’t enough, I can take that strength and power and MULTIPLY its effects by simply following his words and taking a Sabbath. One day per weekend, I dive deeply into God, rest, and my family. It usually starts Saturday evening with church and continues until Sunday evening. No phones, no dings, no expectations, no chores. Just time to be. I’ll tell you that when I first started, the guilt that set in was oppressive. Then, I realized that it really was pride and fear.
The more I practiced repeating: #ADayOfRest #GodToldMeTo, the more I started to understand God’s deep love and protection! Life started to come back to me, and by Monday, I was beginning to be refreshed and ready, versus dreading the week’s pending demands. I still don’t get it all right, and I still need accountability partners; otherwise, I will find myself “SHOULDING” all over the place and making everyone’s lives around me miserable. When I trust God that I am enough—His Daughter and His Heir, thus, inheriting a day of rest—it is simply amazing to see the SMILE stretch across my face and the laughter roll deep from my belly. Just by simply stopping and connecting with God, it is like the Holy Spirit rains down the Heavenly fruits. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 ASB) pour out of me when I allow space for God. Just like Mario or Luigi getting a star of invincibility, with God by my side, I become able to take life in stride, see the goodness around me, and embrace life to the full (John 10:10)!
It is so incredibly simple, yet so intentional. When you feel like you need a battery change or a recharge, may I submit the idea of simply slowing down and creating space for a relationship with God? He is good, and He is waiting to fill you up! I will tell you that May will be the month for me that I will drink up God’s cup of power and strength, unashamedly and on purpose. Stay tuned to find out how adding praise and gratitude, in addition to margin, effects my energy! I can’t wait to see what we do next in Jesus’s name!