Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting Understanding

I should title this "A Rather LONG Confession of a Workaholic"...I say that with great shame.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Wisdom, to me, was learning that there is such blessing in serving the Lord in the local church....understanding came when I failed. Failed you say? Yes, failed, in applying wisdom without understanding. "Get understanding" is proving to be a point of such gravity that it will take my lifetime to scratch the surface of it's importance when acquiring wisdom. On that note, let me shuffle away from complex matters that I don't understand and move on to the most recent much needed disillusionment I experienced. I can't do it all and the motive for wanting to is a prideful, that's a "duh" statement huh? Count on me to make the "yoke" burdensome vice easy and light-not that we are freed from our reasonable service-I'm not saying that. The key is dying to myself and choosing HIS yoke not my own...that is where weariness came in. The yoke I chose without understanding is one of sin...under the guise of service, it is actually a yoke seeking to please others (myself) and steal glory from God..OUCH.

Matt 11: 28-30 Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew Henry wrote "The rest he promises is a release from the drudgery of sin, not from the service of God, but an obligation to the duty we owe to him. Note, Christ has a yoke for our necks, as well as a crown for our heads, and this yoke he expects we should take upon us and draw in. To call those who are weary and heavy laden, to take a yoke upon them, looks like adding affliction to the afflicted; but the pertinency of it lies in the word my: 'You are under a yoke which makes you weary: shake that off and try mine, which will make you easy.' "-(I added the bold)

I had the wisdom to know that I needed to be serving, but the understanding (of my real motives) came when I failed to serve with consideration to my children, and without proper planning and foresight. The understanding enlightened me to my sinful desire for praise from others which led to a continued burdening of myself...I just kept adding weight to my self-made yoke. This getting understanding has been a long time coming and with much chastisement for, not applying wisdom with understanding is a symptom of pride in my life.

My serving (being driven, not called) took on a life of its own ~apart from God, and left me so spent that I was not a blessing to my children, or my husband or my friends or even to the cause in which I was so fervently working to make a success. I need to remember that I am serving GOD....He is a God of order..when things get out of order and stressful and a burden, I need to look at who I am really serving-I need to take a look at whose yoke I'm bearing. You know it is bad when the people around you feel pained to look at you for the busyness you have put yourself under. ( I counted 4 "you"s in that last sentence...what a grammatical masterpiece this post

My husband, I'm ashamed to say, had to quote this to me recently:

Proverbs 17:1 Better [is] a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices [with] strife.

Wisdom without understanding in serving, leads to strife. Just because there is a Sunday school position open doesn't mean that you are the one to fill it along with the other 1 or 5 ministries you are straddling to include your first ministry to your family...wisdom says to serve, yes, but you may serve better and show understanding of that wisdom by approaching that new couple that just joined the church (with your Pastor's permission) who has grown children and may need some encouragement to serve. Wisdom tells me that I should homeschool...understanding means that I will plan accordingly so that my homeschooling is the blessing it should be and not the "burden" that gets placed on the back burner or frantically crammed in even when I am terribly ill because my schedule is so tight. There is nothing wrong with breathing room in your schedule...understanding, which came through failure, tells me I NEED breathing room in my schedule. Abnormal business is a symptom of pride...and that hurts to admit.

I may think my motives are correct in my desire to serve others, but when tension is building in the home and the joy in serving my family is lost in the shuffle of doing the next big thing....I need to take a look at what I am being driven to do and what I am being called to do. God has not blessed what I am driven to do...only what I have been called to do. That is, ironically what my husband's Sunday School lesson was on yesterday. He also told me in a gentle way, that if homeschooling our children does not lead to MORE joy in the home than what we have had this past year, that he is going to have to put them in a Christian school. The realization that the privilege of homeschooling may be taken from us due to my lack of discernment or understanding in serving outside the home, is a sobering one, but it is a definite motivator to take off my own yoke and put on the one with a perfect fit...just my size because it is created by God in His infinite Wisdom and UNDERSTANDING of all things. Wisdom.... Proverbs 31 is a good is Titus 2....wisdom that humbly must be applied with understanding. In my case, most of my understanding comes with disillusioning failure. Your thoughts?


Pam--in Jerusalem said...

This was very well written, Heather. I've been praying for you about this, and will continue to do so. Now, you have to promise to do the same for me and share your wisdom if/when I'm in your position.
Have you started finding replacements for all the positions you hold?

Mishel said...

Excellent post! And I think you already know how I feel about ministry/family/homeschooling--didn't we have this conversation in the nursery a few times? ; )

Like you, getting to this place was a process--and like you, at times it was painful. But I will tell you, once I finally submitted to the Lord on this issue, and let all the other "voices" go (except my husband's), joy was restored--in my heart, in my home and in my relationships with my family. Yes, I was misunderstood by others who thought I should be "doing" more at church and at times I really struggled with letting people down. But God had lessons for me to learn in that area as well.

Your first and most important ministry is your husband and children. And the Lord knows your heart and your desire to minister to others outside of your family as well--and He can and will bring those opportunities your way because you are willing--and when they come, it won't be a burden and your children can be involved too. And there will be joy. : )

I can tell you this: My children do not have fond memories of when I was a Bible study leader because of all the running around we did and the fact they were then behind on school and had a very frazzled mother. What they DO have fond memories of are the times we made a meal and took it to someone in need or the many times we opened our home up to guests--old friends as well as people we didn't know. We still served at church, but we served in areas where it meant we were not running all over the place, like chickens with our heads cut off--dragging the children behind us. And as the children got older, I had a little more freedom to do more "outside" ministry--but even now, I have to be very careful because I'm still homeschooling and Zach still needs his mom to be home. And Rande still has his crazy schedule.

This is so long...I'm sorry! I'll wrap it up by saying, now that my children are older, I have *no regrets* about our decision to have me not be involved in many outside ministries when our children were youn. Instead I'm *very* thankful to the Lord for the memories of unhurried, but productive days--when much of my ministy happened inside my home. : )

Thank you for sharing your heart and what the Lord is showing you and Brian--I pray it will be an encourgement to other moms. I'm praying for you, sweet friend!

Jenny P. said...

Oh Heather hun thank you for posting this. I know it was hard to admit but lettng us know has turned into a blessing for me. I am the same way in wanting to serve and serve in alot of things. I would feel like I am just not doing enough and then in turn I would be commited to so much and then get burned out. You remember that from Maranatha how I was but always tried to keep a smile like nothing was wrong.
Well now I feel so much better knowing I can still serve but I can give my all to a fwew things but still have sooooo much more for my family. Here at our new church I am in a few things and once in a while a one day fuction will come up and it is no problem to help out. I do not feel overwhelmed or stressed out wondering how I am going to get it all done. And now I dont feel guilty for not doing more. I realize that God is happy with what I do no matter how big or small as long as it is for the right reasons and with the right heart and that my priorities are in order (a big prayer for me). God will bless us for this and later if we can we will do more if lead to do so.
Thank you again Heather and my prayers are with you my dear.
Miss you tons and take care.

I live IN Jesus said...

Lovely post. And it is exactly what I have been struggling with--only it is a matter of the heart for me. My desire is to serve the Lord and reach the lost. So, my longing has been for that--out there somewhere! But, Jesus keeps reminding me that I am needed to train up MY children and be a help mate to MY husband and then when that VERY IMPORTANT ministry is fulfilled then HE will lead me to the next step. Isn't so hard to let go of the "things" that we "think" are His will in our lives and just sit still(the hardest part for me ;))and listen for His leading.
God bless you friend--I have had you and your family in my prayers.
Sarah T

Ashleigh said...

Wow, Heather... what a post. This is a HUGE lesson for all of us to learn. I wish I could say I've come a little close, but, honestly, I've been struggling with the same thing but from the other side of it. In the past year, I've found myself having no choice but to do less and less outside minstry, esp. since John left. For the first six months we were here at this new church, we were both busy serving in several areas and keeping a pretty busy schedule... and now that I can't, I've really battled the feeling that people are "judging" me or are thinking I'm just quite doing enough. Thank you for this post... wisdom with understanding... so vital.

(And, also, I can echo all of what my mom said above regarding my thoughts from when I was little... she's spot on. As usual. ;))

Free In Christ said...

Oh Heather my heart goes out to you. I so know where you are coming from. We served, and served and served until we were just a mess. It was hard, but lately we totally look at the service of raising our children to love and fear God as our "service" right now. I know that someday when they boys are grown that there will still be plenty to do in a church somewhere, but for now God has let us see the need in our own family unit. We were so busy that we failed to enjoy each other, and were so tired that we ended up being counterproductive. Also, we were just doing work, forgetting why and for who we where doing it. At this season in your life, you need to focus your attention on your growing family, enjoy homeschooling your little ones. What a blessing that is for all of you, when Mom is not so overwhelemed with a "BUSY SCHEDULE". Don't worry I don't think the people are looking at you and thinking, "boy I wish she'd do more", in all acutality it could very well be the opposite. I sometimes look at people, with too much on their plate and worry about their health or sanity for that part.

Recently my kids music teacher became very ill, like having to spend time at a place similiar to The Mayo Clinic, and I really think the fact that he does so much--church choir director, musicals at the schools--High School & middle school, he has a singing group at the elementary, he teaches full time, works on who knows on how many ministries of his home church, and on top of all that has a wife and 3 small children--the oldest in kindergarten the youngest is 1. As much as I enjoy the group Austin is in, I would much rather Brad be healthy and enjoy his family.

In know way am I trying to say that you will become ill if you work/serve too much, but I sometimes think we wear ourselves down. I truly believe that our first priority should be our family.

I hope this makes sense, I know what I'm thinking and sometimes I have such a hard time saying it. I just want to encourage you to do the best you can for the family God has blessed you with.

Have a blessed day.

Heather said...

Pam :) I "know" you know and thank you for being such a good friend...funny how I would tell others to be careful what they took on and failed to take my own advice when pressured. Love and miss you so much-Heather

(((Mrs Mishel))) Yes, we did, have that conversation more than a few times :) I hate to feel guilt or feel as if I am letting someone I would just serve and serve and let my family down instead of others. Thank you so much for always "being there" for me. Love you so much!!

Jenny :) Hey girl! I am so glad YOU slowed down...praise the Lord this helped you...unfortunately, this is not the first time for me...I think I was worse at Calvary can I call that progress? Love and miss you! are you??? Sorry I have not kept up with you :) Yes, our families must come first. The Lord does bring people our way, praise the Lord...I love soul winning and the Lord allows me to make time. It's amazing how when we are faithful to our families, suddenly we have the strength and time and oppurtunity to win souls. Thank you for your prayers!

Ashleigh-I have always admired your discernment when it came to is easy, though, to get sucked in without even realizing it...especially with children. Since your husband is gone on top of having two very small children...I pray that you will not be attacked with false guilt for making them your first ministry. I will pray for understanding and compassion in others. I know that "feeling" that people are judging...I wonder if satan is just lying and allowing us to see what isn't even there? Love you sweet sweet friend~Heather

Heather said...

Melissa :) You are such an encouragement. "In know way am I trying to say that you will become ill if you work/serve too much, but I sometimes think we wear ourselves down." OH, but I did...I got very sick, this was just a few weeks ago. I know this sort of stress can make me very ill and I only blame myself. I truly don't believe anyone is judging me at my church...satan tries to convince me of some crazy things. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Love you! Heather

Daughter of the King said...

What a excellant post. I appreciate that you shared all of this with us and the time it took for you to type it up.
Before Fibromyalgia, I too wore many hats, now I cannot. At yet I find myself mentally beating myself up because I can't. I also find that other Christians are the first to point fingers,rather piously, if you are not filling the squares that they think.
I want to be what the LORD wants and so so often SELF wants to get in is a struggle.
Somewhere I cross this line from what I call*Christianity to Churchianity*
We are all becoming, it is a process....
It sounds like your husband is a very wise man.


Laura said...

Heather, I don't know if you remember me, it's Laura from Maranatha. I had the three older girls and was AWANA secretary for a while? Anyway I read your blog every once in a while and I enjoy it very much. I must say that God's timing is perfect as always. Brittany, my oldest, and I were having a conversation and I was able to direct her to the verse your husband shared with you! What an honor to say to my daughter that I know a verse that pertains to that problem! I have just read the proverbs and that verse didn't stick out to me but I am glad it does now. I thankfully, learned to say No a long time ago but I want my daughters to be able to say the same thing so that they can have peace and serve God because their heart desires to, instead of looking at church as always something you HAVE to do! Thank you for being a blessing to me this day!!!