As a science major, I spent my fair share of time in chemistry classes during college. I wish I could say that I draw heavily from my hours of past study in my present life in ministry and motherhood; however, outside of recognizing organic chemistry nomenclature in cleaning ingredient lists, that degree is gathering dust. The one lasting impression left on my life from years of chemistry is a deep desire for life to balance like an equation.
As strange as it sounds, I loved stoichiometry. If you stared long enough and thought hard enough, you could find out exactly where everything belonged. It might have taken some trial and error, but chemical equations could be perfectly balanced.
Unbeknownst to me, I have carried such a chemical approach into calendaring and life. I keep thinking that if I could simply buy the right calendar or rearrange the pieces of my life enough, I would find the balance our culture touts and trains us to find. Perhaps you are like me. Perhaps you are drawn to cute calendars and colored pens because you desperately want to achieve the perfect balance of work and rest.
Unfortunately, life is not stoichiometry. Souls and sentient life are so much harder to pin down and arrange.
When Balance Betrays Us
Balance and efficiency, in and of themselves, are not wrong. In fact, we desire them because God ordered the world that we might have them. In fact, in the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2, we see a beautiful balance of work and rest. God gloriously created the earth and all it boasts. Then he stopped and savored the fullness of the fruits of his labor. Adam and Eve were invited into such a rhythm of careful, yet carefree work and rest. Just as God had balanced the earth on its axis, humanity experienced a God-enabled, God-created balance.
When we betrayed our Creator, our balance betrayed us. Labor became laborious. Work became wearying (Genesis 3). Separated from our Master and our metronome, human hearts went haywire, as did the human approach to work and rest. Ever since then, we have sought to return to the life we left on our own strength and by our own devices.
The Spirit, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, chided the crown of creation for its incessant chasing. He rhetorically asked God’s people, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2).
Jeremiah challenged a similar tendency in God’s people when he declared, “How much you go about changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria” (Jeremiah 2:36).
While humans have been able to invent all manner of time-keeping devices from the sundial to the alarm clock, we have yet to achieve the elusive balance we continue to chase. We need something much more lasting than a better calendaring system or a Caribbean cruise. We need the deep soul rest that can only come from a harmonious relationship with our Maker.
Better than Balance
What we have in Christ is better than balance. In fact, any chance we have at getting closer to healthy patterns of work and rest stem first from our connection to Christ. Through Christ, we have full and free access to the One who is our Keeper. Throughout Psalm 121, David repeats the Hebrew word shamar, which is translated as keep, watch, or preserve. The entire tenor of this powerful poem is that in God, we have a keeper, an untiring and inexhaustible One who watches over our daily lives. The psalmist does not allude to perfect balance or an even life; rather, he finds great hope in the reality that we have One who will preserve us and provide for us in all the unevenness of life.
Through Christ, we have full confidence that, whatever our lot may be, it is assigned for us by his sacrificially-scarred hands. While we are not promised equal and perfectly level portions in life, we can be certain that the Perfect One has apportioned our lots in His love. With David, we can declare, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6).
Through Christ, we have the ability to work at resting and rest while working. As those led by the Spirit, we are invited to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). While this sounds easy, keeping pace with the unseen Third person of the Trinity is challenging. His pace is not always balanced and even. Sometimes He will lead us into challenging seasons of sprints and uphill climbs. Other times, his pace will be painfully slow. God does not offer a level course with a perfectly balanced and steady pace. But He does offer something much better. He offers the help of the Trinity: The Father who has planned the course, the Son who walked this earth, and the Spirit who walks alongside.
As we seek to heed Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:15 to make the best use of our days, let us remember though our days may not be balanced, they are still blessed opportunities to point to the One who is better than balance!
About the Author:
Aimee Joseph directed Women’s Ministries at Redeemer Church in Encinitas, CA for three years. She also works alongside her husband, G’Joe, who directs Campus Outreach San Diego. They love watching college students brought from lost to leaders through Christ in the church for the world. Parenting three growing boys keeps her busy; writing on her blog and studying the Word keep her sane. She has a passion to see women trained to love God and his Word.