If you’re like me, you don’t like being told what you can and cannot do.
I think it’s something with which we all struggle and it’s likely because we are made in the image of God but are NOT God. He can do everything and we can’t. He knows everything and we (thankfully) don’t. He has no limits or limitations, and we have many, including time.
It’s a struggle that has been present since the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve were told by God to not eat from one tree – just one – and yet they gave into the temptation to eat from it because the serpent led them to believe that God had lied to them, that God couldn’t be trusted, that He only told them no because He didn’t want them to be like Him (Genesis 3).
They pushed against their God-given limits – ones He had in place for a very good reason – and we all feel the consequences of that decision.
I think that we, too, have allowed the enemy to invade our thinking when it comes to limits. I think that God has given us rules and limits for our GOOD, not to deprive us of anything.
This week, my personal trainer/fitness coach has had me evaluating everything that I have on my plate and assessing what should and should not be a priority. It has been challenging – and eye-opening – to make this spreadsheet and see all that I think I have to be doing. Each thing is good by itself, but when you add up the time each requires it’s staggering.
It has helped me realize how much is actually optional, not mandatory.
Here’s the list I’ve been working on (and I’m sure more will come to mind) in case you are interested in this exercise:
As I was making this list, things kept coming to mind and I watched the list grow. I was shocked, honestly. It doesn’t feel like I have that much on my agenda, but it all adds up.
Seeing this list is forcing me to apply wisdom and make choices. Some of these things are out of my control, some are in my control. Some are required (like dishes), some are optional. I now have to decide what is most important and say no to the things that are not as important.
I have to put limits in place; these limits will bring me freedom.
As much as we hate to admit it, our time on earth (both daily and our lifespan) IS limited. I loved the last sermon series at church because it focused on our tendency to have so much on our plates that we aren’t able to focus on what really matters – God, family, the Gospel, etc. We try to cram so much into our lives that we lose sight of what’s most important.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The Bible is clear that our time is limited (see Psalm 90, for example), and I believe that is actually something for which we should be GRATEFUL. I believe that limits are a blessing. Why? Limits require decisions, limits require wisdom in decision-making, and, ultimately, limits bring freedom. It feels like they confine us, but being able to recognize that you must make the best decisions with your limited time allows you the freedom to say NO.
Realizing that you do not have unlimited years here on earth should force you to make tough decisions about how to spend those years.
This morning I chose to not go to SheStudies (women’s Bible study) at church – not because I don’t love it or need it, but because we have a very busy day starting at 1:30pm and I realized that it was wise to stay home and prepare for our work at MHS rather than go to church and then be rushed. It helps that the speakers are always recorded so I can watch it later and not feel like I missed out on too much. It was difficult to say no, but saying yes would have brought stress, not relief.
I pray that you, too, can take some time to evaluate what’s on your plate and make some tough decisions. When you make this list, you will probably feel even more stressed out (like I did), but that stress is ultimately what is going to drive change. If something on the list that is within your control is bringing more harm to your life than good, perhaps it’s time to make some changes.
Do you need to place limits on an area (or all areas) in your life? How are you spending your time? Whether it’s time, commitments, nutrition, or something else, you can never go wrong with deciding how to wisely spend your limited time.