(this short video was shown before the talk started)
Limits. Boundaries. Some people don’t like these two words because they make us feel restricted. Stuck. Constrained. Fenced in. Limited. We see those things as negative…like we’re being held back…or not allowed to experience what is at hand.
But what if we needed, for our health, both physically & spiritually, to be…limited?
On November 1 our seasonal focus changed. The day after Halloween it became, “…the most wonderful time of the year”. If we’re honest, we also know it to be, “…the most busiest time of the year”. We are about to enter into a season where our schedules, our calendars, our eating habits, all go out of whack.
So…in light of that…in preparation for what is to come, perhaps it’s a good idea to address our business, our hurry, the lack of limits in our lives.
Limit-Less. A 2 week series. 2 parts.
– Two sided coin
– Limits (healthy, important, balance, breath)
– No Limits (living your best life, experiencing God’s dream for you, making a huge difference in your life and the life of others)
We tend to be on one side or another. Perhaps we’ve been forced by circumstance to push harder, to do more. Or we may be energized by an opportunity to chase or produce. Or we may be sidelined by difficulty and have no choice but to live inside imposed limits. So we tend to either withdraw completely or go all out with no regard for rest or rhythm.
We must learn to balance both sides of this coin.
God is found on both sides of this coin, but can be lost if we don’t learn to balance the two.
We’re going to start with the one we have most trouble with: Limits & Boundaries.
We are a society that doesn’t know when to stop. I know this is true because as you read that statement, you feel it to be true inside you. We don’t know when to stop eating, stop playing, stop working, stop watching TV, etc. However, our faith calls us to be countercultural – to know when to work hard and to know when to punch the clock – to know when to say yes, and when to say no – to know when to limit ourselves and when to break the lid off and shoot for the sky.
Ecclesiastes 3 says…there is a time for everything
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
Let’s look at 3 places in the scripture where limits, rest, and stillness, work to our advantage. Not just because it’s practical, but because it’s godly.
(1) Are you tired & burdened?
Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Two things are going on in this text. We’re invited to find rest in Jesus, and we’re challenged to admit our tiredness.
Jesus’ rest is a yoke of wisdom and love that unites us to him.
- a yoke was used to keep the cattle or farm animals centred on what they were doing and where they were going.
- Jesus says, his yoke is light and pleasant, if you’re walking in the direction he leads, you’ll find rest and joy.
- The yoke he’s talking about keeps us close to him and him close to us.
It’s like Jesus is saying, you don’t have to do this on your own, attach yourself to me and your burden will lighten. (the words gentle & humble follow this)
That’s the invitation. But what about the challenge?
We actually have to have enough humility to acknowledge that we are tired – that we have burdens – that things are weighing us down. Jesus was directly talking about legalism & religion, but it can be a whole lot more. What is that for you?
What makes you tired these days? What is heavy on your shoulders this season?
Do we have it in us to confess our tiredness, our burdens, our trust in the wrong things, and in turn allow Jesus to give us the rest and peace we so long for?
(2) Do you know how to punch out; to finish what you’re doing?
Right at the start of it all, God is our example of setting limits. He is our example of what it means to hit the pause button, to mark a day-off on the calendar, to rest, to create a finish line and say, “I’m done for now”.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Take note of 4 words in these verses:
– Finished (x2)
– Rested (x2)
– Blessed & Holy
There seems to be something deeply spiritual about finishing something – something mysteriously beautiful and satisfying about saying, ‘I’m done’. One thing to take away is that completing what you started is always a good thing. However, so is acknowledging that it’s time to punch out. If there is more work to do (or you see it that way) then sometimes you have to create your own finish line and call it a day (or a week).
God finished his work
God rested after he was done
God blessed the seventh day and called his day-off holy
The questions out of this text are…
- Do you honour the work you do by finishing well?
- Do you honour yourself and your health by punching out and actually saying, “I’m done”
- Do you see the blessing and holiness in Sabbath, in rest, in limiting your production?
Sabbath is about ‘not’ producing for a period of time. Not thinking that the world needs you to keep producing that day. Limiting yourself to a set work time, and resting before you get back at it. Reminding yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around your work.
Leaving your worries and anxieties about production, on your desk, and more importantly, on God’s desk.
A few social media posts (tweets) speak to this well. A Rabbi, a Pastor, and a Writer. (this is not a joke I promise)
Shabbat Shalom, y’all.
May you find rest and joy and connection and hope and the spark of the sacred within yourself sometime in the next 25 hours.
You are good and holy for who you are, intrinsically, not because of what you make or produce.
(rabbi danya ruttenburg, sabbathmanifesto.com)
In a culture with so much noise, chaos, and clutter, we must create space to hear God’s voice. Embrace solitude and silence. Learn to breathe, listen, sabbath, and pray. If Jesus took some to retreat for prayer and silence, how much more do we need it in our lives. (Eugene Cho)
It takes courage to say yes to rest and play, in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol. (Brene Brown)
Think about Sabbath like this…
Less stuff, more stories.
Less clutter, more adventures.
Less debt, more freedom.
Less things, more experiences.
Less busyness, more time.
Less consumption, more creativity.
Less stress, more joy.
So what do we do about this? How do we set healthy limits in our lives that give us the energy to do the good things we are called to do?
Use your calendar wisely and well.
– Mark out times to pause, to stop, to rest, to be present, to listen, to not speak, to unplug.
Shut off your phone.
– This is a problem with all of us in some way, shape or form.
– Phone usage stats are unbelievably high (150 home button touches a day, 2500 touches total a day, 70% sleep with their phone close to them, 90% respond to text messages within 3 min)
– Read this Globe & Mail article “I gave up my smart phone”
– Consider the cell phone sleeping bag
Learn to say no & yes to the right things
Take some kind of Sabbath
– Don’t be religious about it, but be wise about it. Create a finish line for you work or productivity.
Be aware of the limits that are already in place but we ignore
– Natural (day light), Physical (strength/tired), Mental (awareness level), Relational, Spiritual (we can only grow one day at a time)
So…you may remember that I said there were three places in scripture we would go to. Here’s the last one.
“Be Still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10)
If you want to know God…Be Still. Stop. Pause. Listen. Wait. Be quiet.
Finally, Try this prayer…
God, give us the courage to leave some things undone today.
Give us discernment to walk away from useless conflict.
Give us strength in stillness.
May we know that our belovedness isn’t in what we do, or say, or finish, or prove.
Help us be brave enough to rest.
In Jesus name (the one who took time to pray, rest, sleep, and be alone)
– – – – – – – – –
small(er) group discussion questions:
“We are a society that doesn’t know when to stop”. Does that ring true for you? Why? What do you have a hard time saying no to?
Why do people fear limits & boundaries?
We look at 3 places of scripture where limits and rest are welcomed. Let’s discuss them.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
– what are you hearing and seeing in this text?
– how can we combine the invitation to rest, with the challenge to confess our tiredness & burdens?
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3)
– what do you hear in this text, about God and about you?
– how do you feel about the 4 words: finished, rested, blessed & holy?
– how realistic is it to follow some kind of sabbath?
How are we doing with: Calendars? Smart Phones? Intentional & Purposeful rest? Saying yes and no to the right things? Being Still (Psalm 46)?
Pray the final prayer together (slowly).