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
I have only recently become a person who enjoys working in the garden. We put in a pool a few years ago and I decided to grow a bunch of tropical plants in our backyard. The first year, everything looked beautiful. But by the third year, the plants were so full that I needed to thin them out. Basically, I had to get rid of some of the good stuff in my garden to make room for the best.
Most people need to take a look at their schedules and do the same sort of thinning. Why do so many of today’s families think kids should have French lessons, soccer, violin and tutoring by the age of five? And that’s just on Mondays! One of the reasons we see so many kids rebelling from academic life and sports and burning out by the time they reach college is because we have allowed them to be too overcommitted with extra things and projects. Kids shouldn’t need a Day-Timer. My good friend, Doug Fields often says, “We have to learn to say NO, even to many of the good things, so we can say YES to what matters most in our life.”
If you were going to begin thinning your family’s schedule, what would it look like? One thing is certain: every family has to come up with their own thoughts and actions that best suit their needs. With this idea in mind, we should begin by scheduling our priorities and not prioritizing our existing schedule.
First, make a list of your family’s activities and responsibilities. Now, start slashing. For some of you, this will be one of the more difficult exercises of your life. Once you have taken a shot at it, review your schedule and look for places to insert a Sabbath. Remember, Sabbath simply means rest. A Sabbath changes the pace of your life; its purpose is to restore strength and help you be still. The biblical term to be still literally means to “let go of your grip.” Is there a day, a half day, or just a couple of hours when you can experience the renewing of a Sabbath rest?
I hope that you will learn this lesson from my simple gardening illustration: thinning can be painful as it removes some good things. But, doing so creates healthy space so the best things in life can grow strong.
As directed above, make a list of your activities and responsibilities. What can you thin from these that will allow your most important priorities to grow stronger?