Our Daily Balance

“Oh, how I love your law! I mediate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)

A testimony. Throughout the course of my career, fifty to sixty-hour weeks in the office were common, and there was no shortage of seasons when seventy, eighty or more hours were necessary to accomplish all that lay before me. As a rule, I did not begrudge these times, for work was enjoyable, proving Solomon’s words true: “That each of them may … find satisfaction in their toil—this is the gift of God.”1 All of my remaining time was zealously guarded and joyfully given to my wife and son.

It was Christmastime one year when I decided to begin keeping a Bible journal: Every morning, I would read a Scripture passage and then write down whatever thoughts came to mind, whatever inspirations stirred my soul and any words of prayer returned in response. So incredibly rich was this time that fifteen morning minutes with God morphed into thirty, forty-five, sixty and sometimes more. I was overjoyed by all I was learning, and amazed to find this—though my workdays shortened in proportion to these moments of meditation, they also became more productive. Moreover, a broadening perspective, a deepening trust and an uplifting calm enriched my vocational experience, all the result of newfound balance and the power of God’s word.

How appropriate that Israel’s king of renowned wisdom, while extolling work-satisfaction as a gift from God, would also caution us against the extremes of toil. “It is in vain,” wrote Solomon, “that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”2 Both enjoying what we do and resting from it are gifts from God. To open one divine present and not the other leaves us incomplete, dissatisfied and exhausted. We were designed to create through discovery, construction and collaboration, yet we were also called to rest from our labor in the presence of God and to proactively love the precious people who journey this life with us. Such is the nature of the eternal God of creation whose image we bear—the God who rests, the One who loves us with an everlasting love.

Stepping by faith into work-life balance, we lose nothing and gain everything.

Father, your wisdom is beyond my understanding and your love knows no boundaries. Draw me into your presence—through prayer and your word—for there you provide strength and there I find rest. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

1 Ecclesiastes 3:13
2 Psalm 127:2 (ESV)

The Day of Small Things

For far too long it seems, I searched life’s receding horizons for “days of significance,” the kind when financial goals are met, career positions reached, or longed-for relationships born. Then all would be well, I thought. Yet it was a very different kind of day, a plainly unremarkable one, when it dawned on me that life is chiefly a collection of simple days, each with its own DNA yet very much like most others. After all, how many times in life do we earn a degree, land the new job, or find our heart’s love? We call them “momentous occasions” for a reason: though exciting and savored, they are also few and brief. We do well to celebrate them while they last.

Most of our calendar pages are of the seemingly inconsequential variety, or what God through the prophet Zechariah called, “the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10 NASB). We marginalize them, but the truth of the matter is, these are where life is truly lived, where hands are held and loved ones hugged, where kindnesses warm the grateful heart and compassions comfort the deepest pain. Mementos from these every-days accent our homes and overflow our scrapbooks with the unlikeliest of treasures, but richest—pre-school handprints, Senior Play programs, and first-love rose petals. Here also is where God prunes us for growth, paring back pride so humility may grow and lopping off foolishness to make way for wisdom. Perseverance eventually pushes up through life’s difficult dirt, and a million fears finally wither before a time-tested God.

In the grace of God, these days of small things coalesce into a lifework far exceeding the splendor of any single moment—indeed all of them—we once thought significant. They usher us reliably through an existence of meaning and purpose, for through the collection of them we mature and bear fruit for eternity—some of which we are already aware and far more to be revealed in an age yet to come. In awe, then, we bear witness to God in worship rising from a deeper depth and praise reaching to a higher height, for we have seen His wisdom, beauty and faithfulness shine most brightly through “days of small things,” which, together, are no small thing at all.

Father, we praise you. How great is your goodness, and how unsearchable your wisdom! Mold us all our days into the image of your Son, and be happy with our wondrously transformed lives. The glory is yours forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Contagious Carriers

It was the summer before my freshman year in high school when I began to notice change in my small town. There was story after story about person after person discovering Jesus Christ to be real. I saw life after life change—the hard-hearted now showing God’s love, the cynical teeming with hope and released to joy. And I wanted that. I wanted the peace that she had. I wanted the joy that he had. I wanted the assurance that they had. It would be years before I, too, placed my trust in Jesus, but it was these people’s undeniable experience and the irrefutable evidence of lives changed that sent me searching in earnest.

Peter urges us, “In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). For most of us, it was love and joy shining through another that stirred our hope from its slumber and the word of God that woke our spirit to a new, never-ending day in Christ Jesus. Yet sometimes we let Peter’s call to defend our hope put us on the defensive. We feel inept to answer myriad questions arising out of a naturalist worldview or a relativistic culture, so we either consume ourselves in endless study, or we muzzle our hope and keep it to ourselves. But while it is helpful to grow in our ability to address people’s faith obstacles (answers do exist), we need to remember it is the truth of the gospel and its evidence through changed lives that reaches into searching souls and resonates in seeking hearts.

Using a lion as a metaphor for the word of God, 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself.” We can say the same for our testimony: Open the door and let your new life shine; it will take care of itself. For Christ is contagious, and He is as real as the need in those who seek Him.

Father, you have given us new life. Send us in the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ, that your Spirit would shine through us as He has shone before us. May lives be reborn because you used your people. In Christ we pray. Amen.

Christ in me is confidence.