Well it’s been a long time since my last blog. I guess, like everybody else time has been a real killer. Trying to find time to do everything is not easy. However I take comfort in the knowledge that I’m not the only one. But, strange as it might seem, I also take comfort that it is a problem that will never ever go away. In other words getting the balance right will be an ongoing battle from now to the day I die.
That being said how do we go about balancing all the demands in life? When people ask me the question I can’t help but feel that they have a view of life that it is a very static thing. In other words if you can work out how to balance life for one situation then you can extrapolate it to the rest of life. And so the frustration of many people is that they have not yet found that magic equation that will solve all our problems. How I wish it was so simple.
The sad(?) fact is that life is never so static nor so simple. Life is a constant moving thing. Today it is one thing but tomorrow there are different demands and issues that pop up out of no where. Life is a very very hard thing to lock down at any one moment. I like to compare balancing the many demands of life like riding a surf board (Not that I”ve ever done this but I can guess what’s like – I think?) vs. riding a skateboard. From what I can tell skate boarding is always on a hard surface and this never changes. Sure there are hills and dips etc but I think it’s safe to say you’re on solid ground and that never changes. On the other hand surfing is a very beast altogether(Well I think). The surface is always always changing. (If the analogy doesn’t fit find something else). It never ever stays still. I think life is a bit like this.
Life is always always changing so when you think you’ve finally worked it out – guess what, things suddenly change and you have to rethink how to balance things again. And again when you think you’ve adjusted to the change, life takes another sudden turn in a different direction and you’ve got to do the whole balancing routine all over again.
Take for instance the following scenario – I know for many Uni students studying is hard work and it’s a real balancing act trying to juggle the mountains of assignments we have to do and the boring books we have to read. However study is not the only thing we have to worry about. There are friends we have to spend time with, responsibilities at home if we’re still living at home (and if we are not then there are the responsibilities to cook, clean, etc). For us who are followers of the Lord Jesus there are responsibilities to serve in our church etc etc. Maybe after a year or two we finally get into the groove of things. That was hard work but….
….then comes the working world. Man oh man if we thought uni was hard the working world is totally nuts. Depending on the sort of job you end up with it can be a real challenge to balance this work/life balance. Some jobs are easier to handle like but others require overseas travel, shift work, weekend work etc etc. It is totally nuts. But it gets more complicated. Some are starting a dating relationship. Others are taking the big plunge into marriage. So not only do you have to manage work, now you’ve got to find time, on top of an already crazy timetable, to be with that ‘special’ friend or your new spouse other wise you’ll never hear the end of it. And this is ‘in addition’ to maintaining time with family and friends and still serving at Church etc etc. Whoa….. Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But it gets worse…
After a few years you may have finally worked out how to manage things but then things change yet again because, for us who are married, the kids come along. Firstly it’s one then two. For some of us venturous guys we have three and for the true heroes they have four or five etc etc. With every child the name of the game changes drastically again, and again and again. Whoa……………
But guess what things change yet again because the kids have finally grown up, move out of home and gotten married and now you have all the time in the world – or so you think. Soon there is the pitter patter of grand kids stamping on your doors. Uggggh!!!!
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. This does not take into account the changing demands on work, health issues, financial issues, relationship issues. etc etc etc.
I think you get the idea. Trying to find that one formula that will help us balance life’s demands just basically pie in the sky rubbish.
Life is never ever static. It never stays still. It is always always, always changing. At one time it moves in one direction and then before you know it completely moves in the opposite direction. And once we’ve found our balance, things change yet again. Our lives are forever changing as are the demands on our time and energy – it is constantly shifting.
What this means is that we are forever changing the point of balance. Sometimes we do need to spend more time at work, but at other times we have to spend less time at work and more time on our family. At other times we have to drop everything because of some major sickness in the family. The truth is that there is no magic formula. There is no ‘one size fits all’. There is no one point that remains the same. Like surfing it is always watching the waves and where they are coming from and adjusting ourselves accordingly.
Life is constantly shifting and we need to be constantly shifting.
But that being said I guess I take back a previous point. I guess there is one point we need to stand firmly fixed on without changing regardless of the changing circumstances and that is the fear of the Lord. The book of Ecclesiastes recognises that life is constantly changing and unpredictable. (Not chaotic but unpredictable). The wise old teacher has these relevant words to say:
I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:11-12
Never a truer word has been said. Life is constantly changing and unpredictable. However this is not a cause for despair or pessimism but a motivation to be realistic in life. At the end of the book he reminds us;
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12: 13,14
Here is the constant fixed point that will indeed provide a balance in life – it is to fear the Lord and to keep his commandments. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The problem I’ve observed with most people is that there is one thing in life ie work, or family, or pleasure etc that becomes everything. When this happens we loose sight of the bigger picture. But when we are focused on the Lord Jesus, when he is the fixed point, the unshakable everything in our life, then all things begin to fall into perspective and fall into proper place.
So it’s not surprising that in the book of proverbs which is all about how to live in this constantly changing world Solomon begins with these words
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom… Proverbs 1:7
Therefore if one wants to know how to live wisely in this world it all begins with the fear of the LORD.
What does this mean in practice? Let me suggest a few things I’ve learned over the years;
- Watch the waves of life and keep changing accordingly. What works once may not work again. Change!!!
- In all things never ever ever loose the fear of God because once we do so we will get wiped out before we know it. For this reason, whatever you are doing ALWAYS make it a priority to grow in the knowledge of God, to spend time in prayer and to aim to honour him in all thing
OK back to the balancing act. I’ve think I’ve spent too much time on this and now I’ve got to get back to…………….