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The Quest for Balance

Mid-April, snowbound, churches closed, flights cancelled--spring in Canada!
Weather alerts said this would be a historic storm and warned against unnecessary travel--freezing rain already had wreaked havoc with hydro wires and highways.

It had been an unusually busy week and a Sunday at home felt like a gift. I poured a steaming cup of black coffee, found my favourite chair, and by the flickering light of a candle, embraced the time to reflect.

Prompted by recent conversations with a few friends, I found myself thinking about balance, i.e. the fine line that so many of us struggle with--between being "useful" and "used up"--between success and being a victim of one's success.

Paul and I are retired so you would think that this struggle is behind us--but not so much! It was Aristotle who said, "Nature abhors a vacuum," and this does indeed seem true if we leave the filling of available time to chance.

By default, our time will be taken up and we may find ourselves overwhelmed, overcommitted and wrongly feeling as though we had no control over the matter.

One of the greatest joys of retirement is the freedom to choose how to spend the gift of time, but even so, by the end of December, the small pie business I started when I retired, had grown to a tipping point. I knew that I needed to take time to think and to pray about how to go forward and I did this intentionally as the new year started. 

By February I had a clear vision that came from thinking about what brings me joy in the business and how I could manage more effectively and keep those things. Our fast-paced culture assumes that success involves ever-increasing momentum. Finding the "sweet spot," and contentment within it is counter-intuitive yet it brought me enlightenment and peace.

The name of this blog was inspired by the words Jesus's mother, Mary, to the servants at a wedding in Cana, when they ran out of wine. She told them, "Whatever he says to you, do it." They did, and it resulted in Jesus's first miracle, John 2:5 NKJV. Over the remaining 3 years of his life, Jesus modelled submission to his Father, always listening for God's voice and direction. He was never pushed along by the considerable pressures for his time and attention.

If we listen and wait for as long as it takes to get the answer, the result is a rock solid sense of purpose that makes it easier to guard against outside pressures. Isaiah 30:15 In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.

Some thoughts on listening:

  1. Listen daily, ideally before rushing into action--crossing the threshold of the day with God. Even a few minutes quietly committing the day and its events to him will make all the difference.
  2. Listen long, if necessary, for answers to issues you need guidance about--this is the discipline of waiting--of patience.
  3. Listen actively--consciously and regularly lifting the issue to God, trusting that he hears.
  4. Listen confidently and expectantly, knowing that God will engage in your life to the degree you are open to him. 
  5. Listen knowing that doing so will change our perspective on things to God's perspective. "In prayer, we tell God things we know he knows, so that we may know them as he knows them." Oswald Chambers.
If we have not listened, we  have nothing to talk about. So we must take trouble to listen. For this we need silence of the mind, silence of the heart, silence of the eyes, silence of the hands...


Frances said…
This was fantastic!! Your tips for listening... I'm printing them off!! Right after I have read them several times! Poppy
Belinda Burston said…
Dear Poppy, thank you for reading--and for the encouragement of your comment.
I will be praying for you in your quest to listen, as I pursue my own!
Paula Walker said…
Since lunch yesterday, I've been pondering our brief discussion around the "doing of what He says" and learning ( listening ) to be acutely aware of not just filling our time doing the bidding of others. I believe we people pleasers find this a particular challenge so thanks for this helpful blog.
Marilyn said…
Peace-giving thoughts that made me stop and think...and listen. Wonderful quotes here, too, Belinda. I found this very reaffirming to my own decisions to reassess, take the time to choose and not fear missing out.

You seem to have changed your blog "look" when I wasn't looking. I dbl-checked to see if I was in the right place. ;-)

Belinda Burston said…
Dear Paula, thank you for the blessing of lunch--the joy of conversation, and very fine food and wine. Most of all for your friendship and exchange of thoughts.
Belinda Burston said…
Dear Marilyn, thank you for taking time to read here. I had almost stopped writing in this space, but someone I met wanted to check out the blog, which scared me into cleaning up the cluttered template and start writing again. I was telling my writing group today, though, that the more I learn about writing, the longer it takes me to write! Lol! I know so many more pitfalls. :) I am so grateful for you, your constant encouragement, and for the way you sit on my shoulder when I write. :)
Anonymous said…
Thank you for this timely post Belinda. I am presently on a glorious long- awaited vacation in France. I return home tomorrow and was awake in the night thinking about how I will fit my “to do’s” into the days and weeks ahead. Your words have given me focus. Thank you.
Belinda Burston said…
My dear, anonymous friend, may the peace attend your every step. I have to share one more thought from a book our cell group is studying by John Ortberg, called Soul Keeping. John was greatly influenced by theologian, Dallas Willard, and asked him what he needed to do to stay spiritually healthy. Dallas, after a long pause, said, slowly (of course :))"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life." John wrote it down and sat poised for the next gem of wisdom, but Dallas simply said, "There is nothing else. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."

So, my friend, know that I am praying for you, as you return from this wonderful vacation. It won't be easy to avoid the machine that sucks us in so easily, but I have to believe that we can, by pressing into God and walking with him. It probably never was easy for anyone to do this and there have been many times that I've failed. Hugs from afar.

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