Tuesday, October 18, 2016


It occurred to me last weekend that I've forgotten how to relax. I struggled with this years ago, and with God's help and some discipline, I overcame the issue -- for a while. It crept back up when I was sick. While I battled cancer, I spent so much time "off" that when I finally felt better, all I craved was to be "on".  

You see, for me, I have the unhealthy tendency to gravitate between running at top speed and being too exhausted to move. There's no in between. It's when I learned to "idle" that I found some peace. 

That word, "idle," usually comes with a negative connotation, doesn't it? People associate it with inactivity and a lack of productivity. But we need to learn to "idle" in a way that increases our capacity and bears much fruit.

Here's what I've learned over the years:
  • Too much "off" with no "on" is unhealthy.
  • Too much "on" with no "off" is unhealthy.
  • Having only "on" and "off" is unhealthy.
  • Finding a way to "idle" (at appropriate times) unlocks greater efficiency.
  • There's a deep tension between what the world wants and what God asks.

Our culture pushes us to do more, try harder, achieve, achieve, achieve... and look fabulous while we're doing it. God calls us to be still, be at peace, and abide in His presence. (Remember the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10?) How do we manage this tension and achieve balance? The first step comes in knowing which way you're wired. 

Which of these sounds most like you?
  • Too much "on": Over-booked, over-involved, over-tired, over-it-all. Relationships and career suffer.
  • Too much "off": Over-looked, under-utilized, unprepared at work, unavailable emotionally at home. Relationships and career suffer.

Since I've found myself again running between the two extremes, I need to find my "idle" again. Am I the only one who needs to relearn these lessons every few years? Sigh.

Adding "idle": The goal is to recharge your battery, renew your mind, and reconcile with God. Relationships and career thrive when your spirit is at peace, and your body has  proper rest. Remember: Even God and Jesus took time to rest. If you struggle to go-go-go, release the guilt and sit your tail down.

What does "idle" look like? That depends on you. What restores your soul? What energizes your spirit? For me, time spent in nature helps me be still and commune with God. I'm also energized by great worship music -- and interestingly enough -- stone silence. Painting or dining with friends refuels me, too. 

My challenge to you is to consider how you spend your time this week. Make sure there's room to "idle"... If you need me, I'll be in the garden.  


The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." - Exodus 33:13

Thank you, Penny Matthews, for your constant encouragement to keep writing. And thank you, Chris Huff, for teaching me the importance of finding what refuels me several years ago.

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