One of the definitions of the word balance (verb) is the stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis. We know that if you put 1 pound of weight on a side of a scale, to achieve balance, you need to add about the same weight on the other. When items of different weight are on a scale, then the measurement is out of balance. Our lives can be thought of as a balancing act as well. When we put in a ton of time at work, but neglect time with family, then we might say that our lives are out of balance. The time we put into these two ends is not equal. Of course, we may know that putting time in at work will allow more time with family down the road, but maybe the correct way to balance is to put work in perspective so that family has more weight. I can come up with thousands of instances in my own life where I feel out of balance, where I feel the tug of one responsibility or goal over another, or where I choose to put more weight into a part of my life over another. The problem we all face is that there are plenty of areas of our lives that are out of balance.
True, I’m making three assumptions here. First, I’m assigning the polls of balance. I made the distinction that work and family would be the sides of the scale, when maybe for you family always takes precedent and the sides of the scale are work and play. Second, I am making the claim that we know our lives are out of balance. Maybe we don’t think our lives are out of balance. Maybe we have not thought about it. That’s fine, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I am making a claim. Lastly, I believe I know, well I believe God knows, the answer to the question, if we are out of balance, then what can we do to fix it?
To be honest, I realize my life is totally out of balance in many areas. So, when I say that I know the answer, I may not be living it. Yet even when I’m not good at balancing areas of my life, I believe the answer lies in the mystery of God. Here are three observations about God and balance. First, God rested on the seventh day. For some odd reason, God took a break from creating and as the Genesis account tells us, rested on the seventh. This started a pattern in the life of community to rest on the Sabbath. Throughout the Mosaic law and into Jesus’ day, there are specific commandments and laws guiding the people to work when we need to work, but then take a day, make it a practice of giving back to God our time in rest. Did God need to rest on the seventh day? No. God could have continued to create and work and plan for more meetings and set up five more commandments and create the tur-duck-en, but instead God set a precedent of rest and honoring time by not programming the whole week.
Second, Jesus says the greatest commands are to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus does not say the best commandments are to work ourselves to the point we’re overtired to be with our families. Jesus does not say that we need to be the best at a sport to have value. Jesus does not say that we’re to ignore everyone around us just to feel good. Instead, Jesus says balance is found when we love God with our entire being and loving others. These two practices of loving put our lives in balance.
Lastly, being a part of a community of faith is the way to restore balance in our lives. Yes, I’m risking big here. Church is not perfect. We run around here just as much as we feel like we run around in our lives. Church can be very busy; trust me I work here so I know. Yet, this is a place where we can work on the first two observations. We can rest here. I know we get busy, but part of worship, part of our study, and part of us being together asks us to relax and just be. We can work together to put our lives in balance. Jesus said we are to love God with everything. This is huge, yet when we’re together we hear testimony of where God blessed others and we open up to where God is working in our lives. Jesus says we are to love our neighbor. Church is full of people we have difficulty loving. We are different, diverse, unique and working to accept and listen to each other and realize we have things to teach each other is an act of love. This community begins to show love and that love becomes a witness to others that we may not have it together, but we are working on finding balance together. We are using being part of the church to achieve balance in our lives.
Okay, so what does this mean? I’m glad to be a part of this community. I learn something about God’s grace everyday when I’m plugged into us here. However, I realize I talk about Sabbath or rest in God’s presence, but I’m not the best at actually resting. So, I’m going to only read emails from 8am until 8pm and not on Fridays. I’m going to do these little things to remind myself that God is in control and I can let email and social media be and I’m not really going to miss things. We are also going to work at allowing more time for reflection in worship. We’re going to challenge ourselves to rest and allow for space to regain balance when we’re together. We’re also going to work on loving each other through the passing of welcome and committing to pray for each other during the week as a way to know others are with us in the work of balance.
We begin Lent on Wednesday March 1st. Lent is the perfect time for us to work on balance. Lent reminds us of Jesus’ forty days in the desert and asks us to trust in God as he did. We turn 125 in March, but it’s always a new day with Christ. Come, join us as we strive for, learn about, and support each other in the pursuit of balance in our lives.