Friday, August 13, 2010

The freedom to relax

I recently heard Sarah Jacobsen say on a God Journey podcast that we've been given the freedom to relax and that comment immediately captured my attention. For years, I was on a religious treadmill trying to fill every moment of every day with spiritual activity. Reading multiple chapters of my Bible every day whether I felt like it or not just so I could check it off my to-do list. Struggling with prayer yet trying to force myself to pray at least an hour a day, especially in tongues. Going to meeting after meeting after meeting, conference after conference after conference and still no closer to God.

It was only after I had heard and understood the message of God's grace that my life started to change. It was only after I understood that God's love for me is unchanging that I gave myself freedom to relax and enjoy life. I no longer felt the need to try to earn God's love and attention because I now knew that it was mine simply because I'm his daughter.

When I wrote this post, I was sitting on the back porch of Harbor House, a bed and breakfast in Georgetown, South Carolina, which is situated on the Sampit River. As I sat on the swing, I watched the movement of the Sampit River as it flowed past the yard. The fishing boats were docked and ready to head out to sea. The sea gulls were flying overhead as the wind blew causing the colonial flag to wave gently in its breeze. As I sat on the porch swing, I could hear the soft gurgle of the fountain that was just a few feet away.

Life was peaceful and, as I relaxed in the beauty of his creation, God's presence was more real in a way it had never been in all of the hectic activity that I used to be caught up in. Learning to relax is a freedom that I've come to enjoy. Sitting in his presence aware of the sights and sounds that surround me is a special gift that I've come to appreciate and enjoy.

At one time, I would have thought that sitting quietly and relaxing was a waste of time. I felt that I always needed to be busy doing something for God. I used to divide my life into two separate compartments - the spiritual and the natural - with the natural part of my life being inferior to the spiritual. However, as I've come to know how God has created me, I've come to understand that I'm a spiritual being so whatever I do is spiritual. Now that I understand and am living in that reality, my life is coming into greater wholeness.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm free to sin all I want. That's foolish. God hates sin and so should we. However, it does mean that I'm now free to join him in whatever he's doing at the moment. Since my days are no longer filled with hectic activity, I'm now able to hear the quiet gentle nudges of my heart as God shows me where and with whom he wants me to be involved in that moment. At times, it may be listening to someone share their story and encouraging them as they struggle through the brokenness of their life. At other times, it might be heading off to Lowe's with my husband when I'd much rather stay home and do something "spiritual." As I've given myself freedom to relax, I'm more peaceful and what I do is now more effective because I'm doing what I know God wants done in that moment rather than following my own hectic plans.

Monday was my birthday and I'm now 64. Recently, I was speaking to a friend about getting older and she said that we're at the age where we no longer want to waste time. Instead, we want to make every minute count. Looking back, I feel like I've wasted a lot of time that I'll never be able to recover.

Today, my life may seem wasteful to others who are still caught up in a frenzy of activity. However, I'm learning that it's okay to relax and I've decided that this is the only way I want to live. Now, I'm free to be like the wind, free to blow wherever I choose and to change direction as needed.


zinger said...

that's great Aida, I hope that you enjoy your time away.


Aida said...

Thanks, Jon. We actually went to this place about three weeks ago. It just took me a while to get this post ready. That was the second time we’ve been there this year and I can’t wait to go again. The accommodations are wonderful and our hostess spoils us with lots of extra goodies.

Robyn Q said...

I couldn't agree more! So so true. What a great remeind to enjoy that we worship.

Aida said...

Robyn, I'm so glad you stopped by.

I couldn't agree more. We have limited worship to mean singing a bunch of songs but, I believe when we relax and just enjoy life, it's a beautiful form of worship.

Thanks for commenting.

lionwoman said...

Aida, I love your pictures and I love what you wrote here. Work work work, that's the thinking we've been hearing at the building the last few months. We American Christians have such a hard time understanding the value of relationship in and of itself. But it has to be the foundation, as Jesus said apart from me you can do nothing. Like you I feel closest to God when I'm NOT striving :-)

Aida said...

Thanks, Lionwoman.

I'm glad we've been set free from all of the doing. The story of Mary and Martha in the Bible is a wonderful example of how much God values relationship over activity. Although all of Martha's activity was for Jesus, he was much more blessed by Mary who did nothing but relax sitting at his feet. This is a story that is often talked about in church but is rarely lived out.