Tuesday, April 18, 2017

So here’s a confession, when I arrived here at First Austin I brought with me a laundry list of to-do items that I had already signed up for and committed to thinking that I would still be in Baton Rouge this year. This included the Duke Divinity Leadership Program, becoming Chairperson of the CBF Ministry Council, and writing a preaching and teaching commentary on John’s Epistles. These were all things that easily fit into my schedule at my former church. However, here my schedule has been a bit fuller and that little writing project that was supposed to be halfway completed a few months ago was not even close.
I tried to write it but everything I wrote was just awful and I felt like it was not only not my best, it was not even good. I was not finding any joy in studying or writing for the project and it was giving me no life. In fact, I woke up on my day off dreading having to try and get a few more pages done. So I did something very radical for me, I called the publisher and simply explained how I was feeling, and then I told them the truth was I had taken on too much and I should have said no sometime ago, that this was not the project for me right now. The publisher said that someone had actually called a few days ago that was interested in a writing project, and he would see if they wanted it. They did, and I felt so wonderfully free.
Sometimes freedom is just a few 'nos' and a bit of honesty away.
Moses was a busy guy. He had a lot on his plate. He was busy leading his people as they wandered in the desert. Then, as people do, they began to have issues with one another. They went to Moses, and he became the judge that settled things, because leading people to the Promised Land was not a big enough job. By becoming judge, Moses took on another task and was quickly too busy, too worn down and stretched too thin. You get the picture? Most of us live lives like that. We live lives that are too busy, and we are too tired to be any good to anybody. We say yes to too much, we try to please everyone, we are stretched too thin, and we are worn down.
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, took him aside and shared these words: “the thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you, and you cannot do it alone.” Let those words sink in. I think if Jethro met any one of us today, he could say the same thing about our activities.

So stop. Learn that you can’t do everything or be everything to everybody. Stop trying. Learn that life demands too much of each one of us, and refuse to give in.  Remember that even Jesus did not have time to heal everyone around him. Even Jesus said ‘no’ at times. Choose the most important things and give your all. Give your all to your children. Give your all to your spouse. Give your all to your God. Say no so that you can more fully say yes.


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