Do you ever feel like you have way too much going on? If you are in school, you are trying to balance every assignment, while managing to still have a social life and hopefully find some time to sleep. If you have recently been married, you are trying to balance making time for each other and still being the independent person you have always been. If you have infants at home, you are trying to balance taking care of this new baby, while also finding time to care for yourself. If you have older kids you are trying to balance your schedule with theirs. And if you have elderly parents, you are trying to balance your family’s needs with theirs.
These are just some of the many things we try to balance in our lives. Between paying bills, staying in touch with friends, having to repair things at home, unexpected car troubles (the list goes on and on), it is easy to feel overwhelmed. We can try with all of our might to balance all of these things in our life, but if we are honest with each other, we all eventually reach a point where we feel like we can’t maintain that balance and something has to drop.
That happened to me this week…
For the most part, my wife and I do a good job of balancing our finances. So earlier this month, when we had some unexpected car troubles, we looked at our budget , made some adjustments and decided to go ahead and do the work on our vehicle. The problem was that I did not follow through with our plan and late last week I started to worry about our finances. In that moment, my brain went down a rabbit hole: I started thinking that I shouldn’t have bought that shirt, or we shouldn’t have gone out to dinner that one night, or we shouldn’t have repaired the car. I started losing balance in my life and in that misbalance I started causing chaos in my life. (Surely I am not the only that panics when I start losing balance in my life.)
And the problem was that my loss of balance, led me to hurt other people. For starters, I know my wife was upset (and probably caught off guard) with my sudden worry. And just like my mind went down a rabbit hole, I caused hers to do the same. When our dog chewed up my phone case, I felt like it was the end of the world because in my mind, I couldn’t afford to buy a new one (even though I didn’t need a new one). I also became distracted at work because I kept trying to figure out how to find balance again. Even sleeping became difficult because instead of letting my brain relax, I was trying to bring balance to my life once again.
As I was driving to the church yesterday, I felt defeated because I could not regain balance. In that moment I started praying and I said these words: God help me get over my fear and help me put my trust in you. This past week has reminded me of a powerful truth though. I will never be able to balance my own life. And the fear and worry that I experience are simply fear and worry of having to admit that I cannot bring balance to my own life. As Christians, we believe and accept that we can only find balance in Jesus, and nothing else. And I don’t know about you, but for me, that is a hard pill to swallow.
In Luke 10, we are told that Jesus was traveling and when we got to this certain village, Martha welcome him into her home. I can imagine that this visit was unexpected. They didn’t know ahead of time that Jesus would be coming to their home. Jesus simply showed up and they welcomed him. This is how we lose balance in our lives: stuff happens unexpectedly. Think back on it, every time we feel like we are losing balance, it happens after an unexpected event. And that is the place that Mary and Martha find themselves in. Jesus has shown up at their house and they were not ready for it. The unbalance comes in the fact that they now have to make the house look presentable for their company. Maybe that day was not “cleaning day” so the house looked like a mess. Maybe that day they weren’t planning on doing the dishes and the kitchen looked like disgusting. Maybe they hadn’t dusted in a while or maybe they were running low on water or maybe they were not ready to provide hospitality. This unexpected visit created chaos because they now have to rearrange their life in order to look like they “have it all together.”
So they both start working on finding that balance once more. Martha got to work right away creating balance in her life by working on the many tasks that need to be taken care of due to this unexpected visit. Mary also goes to work in creating balance in her life by sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to what he is saying. They each respond differently to their need for balance in light of an unexpected event.
You see, I believe that all of us balance life in one of three ways. The first way is that some of us place Everything over Jesus. This means that taking care of everything else is more important than making time for Jesus. We have this belief that if we can take care of everything else first, we can then dedicate all of our leftover time to Jesus. But it never works that way. We always have more and more things to balance in our life and we end up always putting everything over Jesus.
I believe that this is where Martha found herself. She knew that her unexpected guest was Jesus but if she could just take care of everything else first, she would eventually make time for him. But here is the reality of living in this mindset: when we place Everything Over Jesus, we always end up feeling empty and like we need to do (or have) more. The reality is that even if our intent is to take care of everything so that we can eventually make room for Jesus, we will never be able to make room for him without intentionally choosing to place Jesus first.
Which leads to the second part of the diagram: Jesus&Everything. Unlike Martha, some of us try to balance Jesus alongside everything else. We try to balance Jesus into our lives along with everything else. And in doing so, we become legalistic about our relationship with Jesus. We begin to say stuff like “I can only give one hour a week on Sunday mornings because I have so much other stuff going on.” When we do this, we end up feeling overwhelmed and are constantly worried that we are going to disappoint someone.
Going back to the story, this would be like Martha trying to finish her tasks while also talking to Jesus. Trying to accomplish two things at once means that both things get less of our attention and sometimes they are not accomplished correctly because of that distraction.
Then there is the third part of the diagram: Jesus Over Everything. You see, when we realize that we do not have the bandwidth to keep our life balanced, we turn our lives over to Jesus and make him our one and only priority. This is what Mary does. She knows the things that have to be done, she knows that the house might look like a mess, but if she is ever going to have balance, she has to turn her attention to Jesus first. She has to make room to notice Jesus’ presence in her life. If she is going to experience balance, she has to place Jesus over everything else in her life. This means that the mess can wait, because she has to spend time with Jesus first.
You see, life is messy and overwhelming and impossible to balance. But when we place Jesus over everything else, we are able to approach everything else with a different perspective. What Mary realized by placing Jesus over everything was that her worth and value are not dependent on her ability to do the tasks. I truly believe that no one would doubt her ability to accomplish those tasks. She understood that by placing Jesus first, she would find her worth in Jesus and not in those tasks.
That is the lesson I had to learn this week with our finances, and the lesson I hope you find as you search for balance in your life. Everything you are trying to balance will never give you life, or peace, or joy or hope, or fulfillment or true value like placing Jesus first will. In Jesus you will come to find that you are more than the things you accomplish or own. And if that doesn’t bring you balance, I don’t know what will.
So take time today to make Jesus first. Before you start worrying about your meetings, spend some time in prayer offering to God all of your worries. Before answering any emails, open your bible and read through it. You will find that over and over again, people find balance in their life by placing Jesus over everything else. Before you start listening to all the things that need to be finished at work or home, listen to some of your favorite Christian songs. Place Jesus first today, and I promise that you will begin to experience true, authentic balance in your life.
Together on the journey,