One day I was chatting with one of the leaders of the local Promise Keepers movement. He and I had just met for the first time, and were doing the “acquaintance dance” that guys do, getting to know each other a little bit. Part of this guy’s job at the time was recruiting soldiers to serve in the army of volunteers necessary to pull off an upcoming stadium event, and as you might expect, he tried to recruit me as a volunteer. I’m usually the guy who’d be in the middle of that action, but this time I declined, as I had done the other 6 or 8 times that I was recruited for the event.
I went on to explain that, this time around, I felt a real need to just be in the crowd, and participate at that level. Since this guy obviously has a marketing background, he didn’t take no for an answer very well, but after a couple of runs he got the idea, and quit selling. I guess I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t given it another good try.
There’s a part of me that felt like I ought to have been volunteering my time, helping to make the event a success. It is actually a very subtle subset of an attitude that, if not balanced, can lead to a works-based faith, in which God’s valuation of us is directly related to what we do. Those who do more automatically rise to a higher valuation, and those who do little live down there in the sludge. This is a very common mentality among Christians – and it’s an absolute lie. Our relationship with God is not based on a “brownie point system” where those who sweat more are more important. In fact, Grace is actually more like the polar opposite of that mentality.
The service pattern of a balanced Christian life is seasonal in nature. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a familiar and often-quoted passage that speaks to this seasonal nature of our lives:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
The greatest message in this passage is that every activity of our lives is seasonal in nature. Just as it is appropriate to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, so also there are times of life when it is appropriate to give, and others when it is appropriate to receive. There are moments where we should work, and moments when we should just be.
There is so very much to be done in our world – so very many needs to be met. It’s easy to fall into the worker’s trap and spend so much energy on that work that we end up at the bottom of the bucket looking for crumbs to share with our family, or even with ourselves. It’s important to understand that, if we fail to balance our lives, we’ll burn out.
Some think that a period of inactivity means stagnation. Granted, stagnation can result if the inactivity continues beyond its season, but the fact is that the most productive time in the cycle of many plants is the dormant season, when it appears that nothing is going on, but the plant is being prepared for new, healthy, hearty growth. Without that season of dormancy, there will be no season of productivity.
It’s really OK to take a break, and let someone else pull the load for a while. We all need a season of rest and restoration occasionally. If we rob ourselves of that season, we also rob ourselves of the season of new growth and productivity that follows.
Don’t be afraid to take a break from your labors to regroup and recharge from time to time. It’s actually the most productive thing you can do!