Friday, 23 October 2015

Week #27: Learn to say 'No'.

Our lives can be filled up with a multiplicity of demands.  We are continually bombarded with calls for more - more action, more time, more effort.  Whether these calls come from home, work, school or church, these asks on our lives seem never ending.   Sometimes this multiplicity of demands are rooted in things we feel passionate about.  We choose to continually give our selves to that which is demanded in the moment.  And because our interests and passions are often varied and complex, the calls upon us are also varied and complex.

Sometimes we create busyness, believing that jammed schedules and pressing demands are tally marks equalling our own importance.  To be busy is to blessed, we believe.  We tell ourselves, and others, "It's better to be busy that not busy!"  Thus, we never refuse an offer or an ask.  Yet what inevitably happens is that we begin to resent those demands upon us.  The tasks that used to be interesting are now only taxing.   That which promised interest now seem dry and lifeless.

Living in such frenzied manner leaves us feeling overwhelmed and drained of energy.  It is to live from a place of duty not devotion.  God becomes viewed as nothing more than a boss demanding results rather than a Saviour inviting us into abundant life. The activity of our life become that which drain our faith rather than that which fuels it.  This is not the life that God calls us to.  

We must learn how to say no to the those things that take us out devotional living.  The inability to say no keeps us from the life rooted in Christ's presence.  We remain in state of perpetual distraction, pulled in a thousand different directions. Our heart, mind, soul and strength is continually directed to the demand we have to face in this and the next moment, and this keeps us from truly dwelling in the deep well of God's love. The truth of our spiritual lives is that the richness of an internal life with God is rarely found as we run true and fro. A single-hearted focus upon God and his kingdom cannot survive in the constant oscillation between this demand and that task.

A simplified life is a life that is lived out of the centre of faith.  Our desire to follow God's will, expressed in and through our lives, becomes that which governs all of life. In the book, "A Testament of Devotion" Thomas Kelley writes about the necessity of living out of this sense of guidance.  Kelley writes: "When we say Yes or No to calls for service on the basis of heady decisions, we have to give reasons, to ourselves and to others.  But when we Yes or No to calls on the basis of inner guidance and whispered promptings of encouragement from the Centre of our life, or on the basis of a lack of any inward 'risings' of that Life to encourage us in the call, we have no reason to give, except one - the will of God as we discern it.  Then we have begun to live in guidance.  And I find that He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness." ( pg.100)

The life that God calls us to live is not a life of frenzied deadlines and last-minute projects.  God does not wish us to feel so overwhelmed at the things of life that we feel cut off from the Spirit of God in us. Jesus invites us to know life, and know it in abundance.  It remains then, that the way of God must also involve the denial of demands, and not just the acceptance of them.  The abundance of life that Christ invites us into is not merely an abundant of things to do.  In fact, the abundance of God may very well be experienced through our ability to refuse such demands.

God calls us to say no in certain situations just as much as He calls us to say yes.  God may call us to put down or limit certain tasks we enjoy, or demands we are interest in, in order to cultivate a deeper rootedness in His kingdom.  We say no, not because something is bad, or even because we do not wish to do that which is asked of us;  we say no out of desire to remain centred in holy focus.  The act of saying no to a demand is an act of saying yes to God's will in our lives.  This is the root of a life of faith.  We are able to say our no with just as much confidence as we say our Yes because we recognize that our no is yet another way in which we turn to God.  We put down the demands of life for the sole purpose of dwelling more securely in the presence of our Lord.

What is it that God may be asking you to say no to?  What is the task, or duty, or demand you have been holding onto to that God is asking you to put down?  

It can be scary to say no.  It can be scary to turn down offers, or refuse demands, but there is tremendous freedom in do so.  When we say no to something, out of the deep desire to remain rooted in God's surrounding presence, then we release ourselves from the burden of control.  We sit with a spirit of patience and submission and in this we are graced to experience the movement of God in our lives and in this world.  As Thomas Kelley describes it, this manner of life 'is a life of unhurried peace and power.  It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing.  It is triumphant. It is radiant. . . .We need not get frantic.  He is at the helm.  And when our little day is done we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.'

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