Several years ago, my husband and I did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. (I highly recommend it, by the way, though that’s not the point of my post.) Bear with me a minute while I explain where I’m headed with this. If you’ve done Financial Peace University, then you know how helpful it is for taking control of your financial situation, and in turn, helping you in many other areas of your life including your marriage because that financial stress is alleviated. Early on in the classes, Dave Ramsey said something that really stuck out to me and made such a huge impact on how I approached our finances. He said, “Stop wondering where your money goes every month, and start telling it where to go instead.” I don’t remember if that was the exact wording, but that’s the idea he was getting across. I realized then that I didn’t have to worry about where all the money was going and if we would have enough for this or that because I could tell my money where it was going to go. It really changed things for me and I didn’t worry nearly as much about how we spent money after that because I knew where it was going to go because I had told it where to go.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about that concept in regard to time, wishing I could tell life where it’s going to go. Sometimes I feel like life is moving me along through time faster than I want to go, like life is flying by and there’s no time or way to stop and I’m just along for the ride and I have no control over it. At times, it feels like I’m being moved along through life faster than a hairless, clawless cat being flung at breakneck speed down a soap and water covered slip and slide on the side of a hill. (I could have said penguin instead of cat, but that’s not the image I have in my head because a penguin would go sailing smoothly along. I feel more like that cat who’s being forced along and is probably trying to grab onto whatever it can to stop, but never really making purchase.)
Life feels kind of like this sometimes:
There’s no coming to a stop, no stopping point. It just keeps going. Like I’ve been kicked and sent flying by the seat of my pants through life, with no stop in sight.
As I thought about wishing I could tell life where it’s going to go, I realized that though I may not always have a choice in the direction that life takes me or in what it sends my way, I do have a choice in how I face it. It may feel like life is pushing me along faster than I want to go, that there isn’t enough time in the day to stop, but I’m coming to realize I do have a choice. When everything around me wants to pull at me and drag me in a million different directions and keep me in a flustered state of activity, I can make a different choice. I can make the choice to step back for a minute, stop, recenter, and refocus myself. All the activity may still be going, and life and time may still be moving forward, but I can step away for a minute, take a deep breath, still my heart and mind, and choose to put my focus where it belongs. For instance, I can choose to start my day by making and taking time to spend with God, to pray, to read His Word, to listen. I can choose to be intentional about doing those things. And when the day wants to go crazy on me as it progresses, I don’t have to go crazy along with it. It’s okay to stop and take a moment to breathe, to remember Who this is all about and let Him move in and calm my spirit. And when I do, life doesn’t seem to send me flying without a stop in sight nearly as often.
Jesus even set an example for us.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. ~Mark 1:35, NASB
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray. ~Luke 5:15-16, NASB
After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. ~Matthew 14:23, NASB
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. ~Luke 6:12, NASB
Sit here while I go over there and pray. ~Matthew 26:36, NASB
If you look at many of these verses, things were pretty crazy and pretty busy around Him. People were wanting His time and attention constantly, but He still chose to step away for a while. In Matthew 14:23, He sent the crowds away, including even the disciples. In Luke 6:12, if you go and look at the verses just before and after it, you will find out that He slipped away during a time when the scribes and Pharisees were plotting against Him and right before He chose the 12 apostles. Don’t you think He was spending some time praying and hearing from the Father on that? So that He would have the wisdom of the Father in the things that He did? And in Matthew 26:36, facing the biggest crisis of His life, what did He do? He stepped away alone and prayed.
Don’t you think that if even Jesus took time to do this, that it’s important? That He wants us to take the time out to stop and pray, refocus when life is trying to go crazy around us? And that if it’s something He wants us to do, then He’ll help us to do it, that He’s not going to be upset that we did? Life and time may not like it. They want us to keep on pushing, never stopping to take a break or breathe. But that’s not what God wants for us. And maybe, just maybe when we stop and take that break and look to Him, He’ll give us the wisdom to know what we need to do with the rest of our time.
It’s okay to tell someone you need a break. It’s okay to step away from the mad rush of life going on around us. It’s okay to tell people sometimes that you need some time alone to recenter and be refreshed.
I may not get to choose what life sends my way, but in a way, I can tell my time where to go—I can choose what I’m going to spend my time on, what I’m going to let be priority. I can stop when I need to, and in that moment, tell that time how I’m going to spend it—taking a breath and being still before the Lord. I don’t get a say in how life goes sometimes, but I can make a choice about how I’m going face it.
Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. ~Psalm 46:10, NASB
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! ~Psalm 46:10, AMPC
Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything. ~Psalm 46:10, MSG
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! ~Psalm 46:10, NKJV
Our God says, “Calm down, and learn that I am God! All nations on earth will honor me.” ~Psalm 46:10, CEV
Maybe you needed to be reminded of this as much as I did. I’m going to work on being intentional about not letting life spin me around and send me flying, about stopping when it tries to and saying, “No, that’s not how I’m going to face this,” remembering that I can step back for a minute and intentionally return my mind to God before I move on.