8 October 2021 Greetings Yorkshire!
It is my sincere hope that this day finds you well and finding opportunities to spend some time with God in His Word or in prayer! It is important!
As some of you may know, I am completing some course work at Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary as part of my continuing education requirement as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. The course that I am completing my finals for this week focused heavily on our spiritual relationship with God as it works into growth in our discipleship. I initially wasn’t really excited about this class as I much prefer some deep scriptural study or even leadership studies which has been the focus of my post-graduate work. But, as I look back on the course content, it was really about ensuring that we take time out of our day, and spend it with God. This can look different for each person. The purpose for this course as part of a ministry leadership program is that we need to ensure that our life has balance, and for most people, including me, it doesn’t.
I want to share a simple exercise that we did that I found to be of great value. In the graphic below, you see a barrel that represents us. The pipe at the top represents things in our life that fill us, or give us strength, motivation, pleasure, and contentment. This is our source of energy to accomplish life in a positive manner.
At the bottom of the barrel is a drain, which represents things in our life that take energy from us, exhaust us, or dominate our time in ways that tend to “empty” us emotionally.
The concept of the model is that we need to ensure that we have more positive elements of our life filling us than those things that empty us. The lines on the barrel represent our emotional levels meaning that the lower the barrel gets as a result of those things that drain us, the more stress, anxiety, tension, or fatigue we will have in our being. Less fill = less energy.
The balance is that we only have so much time in a day. We will spend our day doing things that fill us in a positive manner, or drain us. Most folks tend to focus on stuff that drains us, like work, filling our schedules with things to do, places to be, shopping to be done, meetings that we are asked to attend. We often don’t have as much time to do the things that fill our tanks. We live our life in a manner where our “cups are only ever half full.” I suggest that you make a list of the things that fill your tank, and the things that currently drain your tank. You may find that the list of “drains” exceeds your “fills.” And each time we add a “draining” item to our list, we make time for it by eliminating one of the things that “fill” our tank. And if you are often feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burnt out, this may be why.
One of the areas of life which is of critical importance to our relationship with God is the time we spend with Him. Time which includes reading and studying His Word, doing devotions, time in small group fellowship, Sunday School, worship, and of great importance, prayer. Many times folks will ask me a biblical question to seek an answer for which they don’t have time to research or read in the Bible themselves. Folks often don’t understand elements of the scriptures, yet spend little or no time studying them or reading them.
Years ago, when I worked in a corporate position that required a level of financial knowledge that I did not possess, I went out and purchased basic accounting text books and I studied them. I learned the terminology and the basics of financial spreadsheets, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements. I learned a great deal that gave me a foundation to at least understand what I needed to know. I referenced these books whenever something would come along that I did not understand.
In the same manner, we need to spend time in the Word of God. This is where God reveals Himself to us. So often I hear comments like, “I don’t think that God would…” or “I believe this or that about God…” But when I ask what in the Scriptures, they are basing their thoughts on, they can’t answer and often state that this is just what they believe based on what they feel is right. When I was in the corporate world, and our financial auditors would ask me about something we were doing, I could not answer with, “well, I just think that this is the right way to do it,” or “it just seems that this should be OK.” If I had an answer, it needed to be based on sound principle.
As Christians, we find our sound principles in the Word of God. This is the bedrock for all that we do. In John 1:1 we see that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. Verse 4 states, “In him (the Word) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” Later, in the 14th chapter of John, Jesus said, “I am the Truth, the Way and the Life.” So, it is in the Word that we base our life principles. It is in the Word that we find life. I suggest that it is where we find the strength, hope, fortification and life principles that fill our tank, give us the ability to get through life. It is a source of light and we know that light brings life.
Yet spending time in the scriptures, reading and studying the Word of God is often one of the things that we eliminate to make room for something that is often a draining element of our life. We are so busy at work or with responsibility, that we just don’t have time to simply read the Bible, let alone study it and learn what it says; letting God reveal Himself to us (See 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 25:14, Hebrews 4:1-16, Matthew 7:21-23).
My challenge to you today is that instead of eliminating something from your life that can fill your tank, such as spending time in the Word, that you take a look at the list of those things that drain your tank. To live a balanced life, we need to make sure that our inputs outweigh our outputs. If you need to tip the scales in one way or another, why not tip them in a weigh that benefits you. The results will be amazing- and this I can promise… see, I bought the textbooks, I studied and am studying, and I unequivocally believe what it says. But just like the accounting text books, I needed to read more than a chapter here and there to draw my conclusions. Yes, I needed to study the entire book. I needed to hash out those things I didn’t understand with folks who spent their lives and careers in the field of study. And it made a difference. And I’m still studying!
Have a great and blessed day- and yes, find some time today to open your Bible. It will make a difference!
Peace and Blessings!