At the heart of any change is inner transformation. It is in knowing God's voice and having communion with Him. It is knowing what it means to be at peace. Reclaiming your life is not about climbing back on another performance treadmill. As I present these ideas, remember that they are there to serve you, not for you to serve them. When Jesus disciples were eating grain from the fields on the Sabbath, the religious leaders challenged Jesus. Jesus' response was, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28 NLT)
At the same time, we diminish the power we have as parents to decide what family life looks like. We see ourselves as victims of the whims of a coach, director, or teacher. As a parent, you have been given the task by God to shape your child's influences and schedule. A few years ago at a Mennonite youth convention, Luke Hartman told the story of his mother's limit setting. She had told him he could play baseball as long as he did not miss church on Wednesday evening. One Wednesday afternoon his team was in a tournament and the final game went into extra innings. The team had been through all of their pitchers for the day and Luke was the only one left. It was time to leave for church, but his team would have to forfeit and lose the championship game. He was horrified to look up and see his mother walk up to his coach and let him know in know uncertain terms that Luke was leaving the game and they were going to church. The interesting thing for me as Luke told this story is that the group of several thousand Mennonite youth began to applaud his mother's courage. While young people may be embarrassed and angry when their parents take this kind of stand, they also admire the courage and principle that adults exhibit as they define and craft life around their value system. As a parent, you can choose what defines your lives.
So the journey to reclaiming life begins with communion with Jesus to define your priorities. What are the things that you will insist must be a part of your family routine? If you decide to make occasional exceptions, how often will you allow it? Begin by choosing what forms the fundamental blocks of time in your family calendar. God created us for six days of work and one day of rest. If we ignore that too long, we will destroy ourselves. Define what that rest looks like through the week and when it will happen. Sabbath, family dinners or breakfast, devotions, church activities, social connections, and vacation and holiday plans might all be a part of this. Our work and leisure lives as adults should also be on the table as we decide what matters. As we make sacrifices in our own lives, our children will be more willing to do that also.
If you live in a North America, you have more freedom to choose your life than at any other time in history. However, we are shaping these lives into frantic busyness which destroys us. God has shaped a life that is for you and your family. Let him define that for you as you pursue His championship trophy.
Tomorrow we will look at some of the practical aspects of saying no in all the arenas that demand our time.
-John M Troyer
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