It was probably a few years ago now that the Lord began convicting me about saying “yes” to everything—or maybe that’s just when I started listening. I’ve always been someone who likes to have lots of plates spinning in the air. I love to be busy, and I function well, for the most part, at high capacity. Still, I would find myself burning out after extended periods of time when I was found doing too much of everything.
The hard but necessary lesson that the Lord was trying to teach me was and still is “how to say ‘no’ to good things so that I can say ‘yes’ to the best things.” Why is this so hard to do? I imagine I’m not alone in this struggle either. It may be quite easy for us to say “no” to things don’t interest us, but when a good opportunity comes along, how on earth do we say “no” to that?
The hamster wheel I was finding myself in was “the yes game.” Everything opportunity that came my way: “Yes!” Every person who needed my help: “Yes!” Every get together with friends: “Yes!” Every speaking engagement: “Yes!” I think you get the picture. I have always found it very hard to say “no”, especially to good things. Here is what I’ve learned, though. I cannot do all things well. It’s not rocket science, right? You might even be laughing at me right now, but it was a hard reality that I had to come face to face with. When you and I say “yes” to everything that is presented to us, what we end up finding out (and usually the hard way) is that we are only able to do all things at about 50% instead of giving 100% of ourselves to it.
Because it’s impossible to be everything to all people and to do all things well.
We’re going to keep trying to, though, aren’t we? We will exhaust ourselves in trying, but at the end of the day, we’ll be left wondering why we did all of these great things and yet we still feel empty and worn out. This is where our passage comes into play for today. Here it is. Read it slowly, and soak it in.
“Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5-7)
The first time I read those words, I felt as if they were written specifically for me. This is me on so many of my days—running around, doing so much, but harvesting nothing but exhaustion at the end of the day. This is not what the Lord would want for us. Do we ever pause for long enough before we commit ourselves to another thing to “give careful thought” to our ways? Or do we just say “yes” and determine to think about it later?
If we are to ever truly know rest, then we must start living by Haggai 1:5-7. There is wisdom in learning how to say “no.” There is wisdom in setting healthy boundaries around your time and the things to which you commit yourself. There is wisdom in thinking and praying before deciding. There is wisdom in slow living. I can’t help but wonder how much we forfeit rest in our lives simply because we do not stop for long enough to consider our ways.
For some of you, your plate may be full with two things, and for others, your plate may be full with seven. This isn’t a lesson on finding the magic number of things we are allowed to commit ourselves to. This is a lesson about learning to bring all of our plans, dreams, desires, commitments, schedules, and everything else before the Lord first and taking a few moments to breathe in His wisdom before rushing into yet another thing that will fill our days. Do you feel as if you’re pouring out far more than you’re getting in return? Do you find yourself still hungry and thirsty even after you’ve had your fill? Does your labor seem to be in vain? Perhaps, your plate is too full. Perhaps, it is time to pause. Perhaps, it is time to start giving careful thought to your ways. Perhaps, you need a good dose of rest.