Why a balanced heart is better than a balanced life

A balanced heart

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It’s been a long time since I listened to a sermon.

In between leading the children’s ministry, spending time in the mother’s room with one of my three babies, and just being my usual distractible self, it’s not very often I have the time or the presence of mind to sit and actually learn from a sermon.

Today I found myself in the rare position of not having something on my mind, not having any children around, and not teaching.

It’s like all the circles in my life’s venn diagram suddenly intersected and my brain actually felt like cooperating.

The pastor asked a question: “What do you think Jesus would say if you asked him how he was doing?”  He concluded that it’s very unlikely he would say “I’m SO busy!”

Ask me the same question. Or I’ll ask you.

But yes, yes, I know, I know, we’re all busy and we should be less busy and focus more on what’s important…but then the pastor went on to make a point I hadn’t expected.

He said that, while the self-help books might tell us we need more balance, that’s not what Jesus said. He said “take up your cross and follow me”, not “take up your cross and live a balanced life”.  *smirk

Jesus most definitely did not lead a balanced life, he led the life of an impassioned itinerant preacher and miracle-worker.

He had thousands of people following him around the countryside, and 12 disciples who sometimes acted more like children than adult men. But he didn’t send them away, claiming to need a better balance of work and play, or reminding them that it was time for “me-time”. He invited them in, teaching them, healing them, weaving stories for them, encouraging them, loving them, showing them what God is like.

How on earth did he keep up the pace?
How did he live such an unbalanced life?
(also, how did he train 12 disciples? I can barely do 3!)

I suppose we could argue that he was God and therefore had more mental and emotional resources than us. And yet, the Bible tells us that he was fully man as well. He had the same need to sleep, eat, and use the outhouse without someone banging on the door because they needed something.

Jesus didn’t have a balanced life, but he did have a balanced heart.

In the words of my pastor, he had “an inner sanctuary where he could meet with God.”

That’s what I want. I like the idea of an inner sanctuary because my outer sanctuary is usually pretty cluttered. There’s always something that’s taking over either mentally or physically – whether it’s the kids or the garden or the new writing project or the contents of my kitchen. But I can have a balanced and uncluttered heart.

I can cultivate that inner sanctuary, the place that’s just me and God, the place where I meet with him many times throughout the day.

I need God when I’m struggling with the strong-willed one whose plan is always better than mine.
I need God when I’m trying to make a healthy, wholesome meal and all I hear is “I don’t like this.”
I need God when I’m unsuccessfully trying not to let my frustration burst out loud.
I need God when I’m reading books aloud and trying in vain not to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence.
I need him pouring his goodness into me all day so that I can get by without going criminally insane!

I need him in the bad and the ugly, but I also want him in the good. While he’s pouring into my heart those things I so desperately need, I want to remember to praise him in all things. To remember the gifts.

The baby that discovered the world of crawling.
The child who realized how his disobedience caused someone else harm and came to full repentance.
The little one who always wants to help…with everything…
The gift of quiet in the middle of the day when all is peaceful, even if just for 5 minutes.

“But as for me,
it is good to be near God,
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.”
Psalm 73:28

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