So, I have woken up two mornings in the last seven with the scripture out of Luke 12:27 on my mind, and specifically where Jesus tells us to “Consider the flowers of the field…”
I love blueletterbible.org because you can learn things about the original language and delve deeper into the knowledge of God’s Word, and you don’t need a degree! That’s what I love to do when The Lord gives me a particular scripture to meditate upon.
Luke 12:27 NIV Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
The word, “Consider” here means: to perceive, remark, observe, understand, to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon
That word for labor in Greek is quite interesting, too. See if you can relate. It means:
to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil/manual labor or burdens or grief)
Goodness. I’m not sure I know what to say about that because almost every woman I know has some level of exhaustion or weariness going on in their body or their mind or both. Are you tired? This whole idea of growing weary and tired and exhausted because of toil, burdens or grief pretty much covers the spectrum in our lives.
I have always loved hard work. I was the kid who amongst all my friends would wake up instead of sleeping in on the weekends and in the summer because (and I quote myself here), “Why would I spend half the day sleeping when I can get things done?” and so is my life. I like to get stuff done, I am by nature an accomplisher. Don’t get me wrong here, I love having a strong work ethic because so pervasive in our world today is a serious lack of work ethic. But, our 2 year old runs around the house singing the catchy phase from a Gatorade commercial where they sing, “Haaard….work!, work!” And often he will tell my husband and I when he’s playing, referring to himself in the 3rd person, that he’s “working so hard.” I do love it, and I believe that Jesus Christ was into hard work and strong work ethic.
But, there are 2 things The Savior did that we often miss…
#1 He was about His Father’s business. He was not about His own business and then asking God to bless it. No, He was about the Father’s business.
#2 He pulled away, set Himself apart in the inner room of prayer, and He rested.
Luke 2:49 (AMP) And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business?
Really, truly – what is it that we are occupied by?
I will confess to you that I get occupied by a lot of things that are NOT my Father’s business. And previous to the Fall of 2010, I was WAY busier than I am now and I want to tell to you that I was about my own business. Literally. I’m a business-owner, and my hard work was aimed almost entirely at being a total and utter success. And, looking from the world’s perspective, I was and I was accomplishing good things. I wanted to help more people, and I wanted to spend my time making it possible for others to live healthy lives and teach them how and to be available. I was co-leading a bible study, I had even started to do some speaking engagements at churches and women’s groups teaching the Word of God, and I thought that I really loved people. All the while, I was ignoring my husband, with my laptop securely placed on my lap staring at the screen and typing away every waking moment that I wasn’t actually at my office or outside running. Hard work. And it was hard. It was hard on me and hard on him.
In late September 2010, I remember as clear as day when I was driving into town, and praying out loud as I very often do when I’m driving by myself, I heard the Lord say to me, “Why don’t you just quit striving?” And it marked me forever. It was as clear in my ears as if He were sitting right there with me in the flesh. Have you ever experienced that? If you have, you never forget it.
Immediately I knew what the Lord was asking me to do. He was asking me to leave the business-coaching program that I had been a part of for the past 4 years. Because of my perfectionistic type-A personality and sin pattern, being a part of that group was causing me to be extremely stressed and focused on building my earthly empire. My own sin was the root of my striving.
Here’s a direct quote from my prayer journal on September 25, 2010 where was apparently compelled to make a list of the things on which I spent my time (we were in the middle of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s bible study called “Seeking Him” which I suppose prompted me to ask this question of myself and therefore come up with this honest answer:
“I spend my time: (and here I listed 15+ things that were grossly self-centered and worldly, you can fill in the blank with your own list), and on and on and on and on. It’s relentless this schedule I’ve made of my life because it doesn’t quit. There’s always more to be done and more to plan and more to think about and more to strive for. But, Lord, all of that chokes out You. And I would ‘say’ that You are my purpose for living, You are my joy, You are my passion, You are my life. And when I read that list I just made, I know it’s true, it’s more about me than it is about you. My thoughts, my dreams, my plans, my opinions, my knowledge, my tastes, my perceptions, my feelings. What do those amount to? Filthy rags, dirty garments. All of what I consider in my humanity to be ‘so good’ is trash & rubble before my King. Most of it is chaff that will be instantly consumed by the Holy Fire of your perfect and righteous judgment. And rightly so, Lord, because You are I AM…”
Internally it was the most awful existence of self-centered living and striving to make my name great, all the while on the outside I was kind and loving and helpful and concerned and loved Jesus, and loved His Word. Duplicity at it’s finest…double-minded in all I was doing. To quote from my prayer journal again, this time from about a month later (this was after God broke me out of my striving once & for all) it reads, “Father, I confess to You my duplicity, my walking down 2 paths, straddling the fence of the Word & the world…” And I was, and He was not going to let me keep straddling the fence.
You see, The Lord was not done asking me questions. Within about a week from asking me if I would quit striving (He gave me a few days to realize that I WAS striving, and that was the reason I was so worn-out). By the way, for a wellness doctor to feel worn-out and it not be fixed by a run or a green smoothie, IT IS GOD GETTING ONE HARD-HEADED DAUGHTER’S ATTENTION, and I’m so glad He did.
So, one morning I was on my way to meet some of my sweet sisters from our Tuesday night bible study in my office parking lot, because we were car-pooling to the True Woman 2010 Conference in Ft. Worth. And I had no clue that God was about to show me His Glory in a way that would CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVER. So, I was driving the 20 minutes it took to go 7 miles on that winding little road we call Fallcreek Hwy, and I heard the Father again as if it were out loud, asking me, “Will you put it on the altar?” And I knew exactly what He was talking about again.
He meant my practice as a whole. All the things I was spending my time on. He meant the business I had worked so hard to build and pressed so hard to maintain for the past 4.5 years, he meant the very thing that I staked my livelihood upon, He meant the thing that had become an idol in my life, He was asking for me to place Clearview Chiropractic Life Center on the altar, and trust it to Him. If He provided a ram great, if He didn’t, I would have to sacrifice it all and allow it to die. I’m not sure how I can explain what a BIG deal this was to me, and my Father knew it was.
Later that night and the next day I had an encounter with God (much like what Isaiah did) except I didn’t actually see His train or smoke fill the temple but I definitely perceived it, and my oh my did I come undone and realize I was ruined. As Mary Kassian talked about the pervasive cult of feminism that had entered our world in the 60’s and 70’s, and how my generation (even those of us in the church) had been so engrossed in a culture where it was accepted and even expected from young women to live exactly as I was living (self-promoting, self-endulging, self-centered, self-seeking, self-everything because after all, we don’t need men to do anything for us, we can accomplish our way into feeling worthy…) – that we no longer even saw our lives for what they were. We were all little frogs in our own little boiling pots never knowing we were in the waters of self-destruction.
I want y’all to know that I staunchly THOUGHT I disagreed with the idea of feminism. True story: my best friend & I watched Disney’s Mulan when we were about 16 years old and we were utterly disgusted with the girl-power message. I didn’t hyphenate my name when I got married, I have brothers whom I adore and I got along with all the guys in college. I didn’t hate men and I absolutely wanted them to open the door for me. But, I had a wrong belief about my own self. I thought too often about myself and thought too highly of myself. And I was in that boiling pot fixing to destroy my life, until Jesus rescued me. He rescued me before I ruined my marriage, and He rescued me before I defamed His great Name, and before we had a child. He broke me free and rescued me.
Praise. His. Name.
And I’m about to tell you that I have never, ever, ever wept like I did that night when the Holy Spirit, through Mary Kassian, challenged us to repent. I was overcome by His goodness and His grace, but before that, I was overcome by repentance. I laid on the floor of that prayer room inside the convention center and wept until my eyes were swelled and my abs were sore. And when I walked out, I was free.
I was like a heroin addict that put it down and never used again. Oh I’ve been tempted no doubt, even as recently as last month, but when you have been a captive as I was to self and worldly thinking, and your Savior has broken your chains, you do not soon forget the magnitude of it. I know what those chains feel like and the Holy Spirit makes me sensitive to hearing those shackles clankin’ if they even come near.
He asked me to quit striving and lay it on the alter, and so I did.
I quit advertising. I quit the coaching program I was in that continually pushed my type-A perfectionistic-bent self to accomplish more. I put my laptop down at home and had conversations with my husband. I quit analyzing and statistically obsessing over my practice. I quit striving.
And you know what? I started loving.
I would have told you that I loved Jesus, and my husband more than anything previous to that encounter with God. And that I loved my family and my friends and my patients. But, until I laid that burden on the altar, I couldn’t love anyone fully. So much of my life, my thoughts, my energy was tangled up in that thing, that thing of making my own name great, that it was strangling my relationships that mean the most to me.
And I started loving the people God sent into my practice for help and healing. I didn’t need or want anything from them anymore because I was being filled by God’s sufficient grace and love and abundant power. I no longer took on the guilt of someone who didn’t want to get well. I was free to love and serve and give because my emotional and intellectual wellness was found in my Savior, no longer in how other people responded to my will. It was the beginning of death to self.
I quit trying to make all the decisions in our house. I let my husband lead.
The scary thing is that all the time I was striving for things related to my own business, I would have told you that I was about my Father’s business.
Have you ever done that? Been so blinded by the enemy’s twisting that even good gifts from the Father, and callings He puts on our life somehow become the idol you are committed to instead of Him?
The child(ren) you prayed for?
The husband you couldn’t rest until you had?
The bible study you were determined to lead?
The choir you felt lead to join?
The business that you felt called in to?
The volunteer opportunities?
Y’all ,the thing we give most our mind and energy to is the thing we worship.
Get this, there is another place where we are told to “Consider” is in Hebrews 3 (it’s the same exact word as we saw in Luke to consider the wildflowers). Oh, I know this will bless you as much as it did me!
Hebrews 3:1-6 And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about(same Greek word for ‘consider’) this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. 2 For He was faithful to God, who appointed Him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entirehouse. 3 But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. 4 For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. 5 Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. 6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.
Are our lives an illustration of the truths God wants to reveal to the world?
We should all want to be and even strive to be faithful servants in God’s house! But, did you catch v. 3? The Person Who builds the house deserves more praise than the house itself. And v. 4, the One Who builds everything is God.
It does not matter, my friend, what good thing you are striving to do or accomplish, even if it is a noble and worthy cause…if the created thing is getting more praise/time/attention/love/thoughts, etc. than the CREATOR, something is amiss. Repent. You will be blessed. I am and I was when God revealed my duplicity.
We do not have time on this earth to waste it wearing ourselves out being about our own business, or even about the Father’s business in our own way & our own will. We must be about His business, in His way, according to His will – and to be about His business is to be about Him, and the way to be about Him is to be in the inner room of prayer & about His Word…
The fact that God’s Word is alive and active is all the truth we need to take the next step with Jesus. It is through His Word that He will reveal places in our life where we are straddling the fence of the Word and the world.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
If there is any question as to whether what you’re toiling at is God’s business or your own, go to His Word and go to Him honestly in prayer. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposed mine. There is no lie from the enemy that can keep us blinded when we are continually exposing ourselves to the Light of the World. He will break us free, our chains will fall off if we keep exposing ourselves to the Truth.
Studying the Bible is the most mind-stimulating and heart-changing activity on the planet. According to the authority of the scriptures, and by the powerful Living Word, God communicates to us exactly what things we can assuredly be blessed by fixing our eyes & mind upon. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. It is His utter kindness that leads us to repentance. No greater gift has He given than His life laid down that we might repent and be made free.
Bless you today, my brother and my sister. Let God access the areas that you think you have or need to have under control. Let Him show you what’s really wearing you out, physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Be unshackled by His Word and by His Spirit, in Jesus Name from your striving.
Consider the wildflowers, for they are decked out in more splendor that the greatest and wisest of kings, and they don’t toil and stress and work themselves to exhaustion. Consider Jesus, the Author & Perfecter of our faith, Who pulled away from the busy-ness and entered the inner room of prayer with the Father regularly, and He rested.