A friend of mine released a book that was titled, Permission Granted. I thought to myself, “That’s such a cool title.” Far too often, God gives us permission and makes us aware of things that we can do or should do, but for whatever reason, we do not respond in obedience to those promptings of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we don’t respond to a nudge because we are too distracted or too busy. At other times, we do not respond out of fear. I have observed in my ministry, that women often don’t respond to God’s prompting because of guilt, shame, or pride. Guilt brings the lie, “I could not possibly do that.” Shame follows with the question, “What would people think if I did that?” And pride is the tricky one because it masks itself in all kinds of ways. One of the uniforms of pride is the “Superwoman” cape. With this uniform comes the lie, “If I don’t do it, then it won’t get done.” It is a prideful posture and one that allows us to maintain a false sense of control. Most of the time, all of us are wrestling with the pressures of guilt, shame, and pride and we don’t even recognize it.
For the past three years, I have been intentionally discipling women at my church. A large part of that discipleship has included challenging women concerning their choices and priorities, replacing the lies of this world with the truth of God’s Word, and encouraging (sometimes even begging) them to take God up on his good offers to be still and spend time with him. In a time when our lives are running on overload and when our local churches measure success by the nature of performance (how many people show up, how many ministries we offer, or even how many places where congregants are serving), I firmly believe that women (and men too) need permission to do less. As servants and leaders in the church, it is part of our responsibility of discipleship to agree with God, encourage and grant that permission as needed.
I was delighted to enter a conversation with Dr. Michelle Johnson this weekend on the topic, “A Blessed Woman is a Balanced Woman.” We had an honest conversation about what happens when the weights of work, family, ministry, school, and personal well-being become unbalanced? What is God’s will for women concerning balance.
Listen to Podcast: http://goo.gl/VOsm67
We provided a few practical tips concerning God’s desire and the permission he grants to his daughters:
Tip #1. When God gives you the opportunity to rest, take it.
Psalm 62 has quickly become one of my favorites Psalms. It encourages me to “find rest, O my soul, in God alone” for my salvation and my hope comes from Him. Finding rest in God is really a matter of trust. Do I truly trust God to carry my loads and to fulfill his promises to me?
Psalm 46:10a says, “Be still, and know that I am God (NIV).” I love that NASB translation of this passage which reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” In other words, “Stop it!” God is in control.
God also frequently brings me back to Psalm 127:2: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-for he [God] grants sleep to those he loves.” Sleep is a gift of God and we should all take advantage of it.
Tip #2. Honor the Sabbath by taking regular moments of rest.
In creation, God himself (the one who is all powerful and needs no rest) modeled for us the practice and spiritual discipline of honoring the Sabbath. Humans are fragile creatures and we do have limitations. I have come to understand that our minds and bodies need this regular time of rest. Even Jesus affirmed that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).” In other words, we do need to set aside time to worship God. Yet, the purpose of the Sabbath is not for ritual obligation, senseless law-giving, or religious activity. God gave the Sabbath as a gift to humankind and we should honor the Lord and thank Him for this gift by being obedient to his call to rest. Use the Sabbaths to worship God and to recharge your batteries. Do those things that are life-giving for you.
Tip #3. Be a woman who responds in wisdom.
Context of Proverbs 31:10-31.
Tip #4. Evaluate how you spend your time.
The Bible also says about the model of the Proverbs 31 woman that, “she does not eat the bread of idleness (31:27b).” I hear people complain all of the time about how busy they are, and I often challenge them as to whether or not they are actually being productive. In other words, not everything that we do is beneficial or profitable. Part of living a balanced life and walking in wisdom is prioritizing and determining the best use of our time. I think when people really take the time to evaluate, some would be amazed at how much time they waste throughout the week or how much time they invest in earthly things that have no eternal value and that is not wise.
What lessons has God taught you concerning wisdom and balance? Listen in and join the discussion by commenting below.
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013