Monday, November 03, 2008

Preparing a God-honoring Schedule with No Regrets

Our hostess this morning At the Well is Sunny, whose blog, A Damsel No Longer in Distress, is one of my favorites. Please be sure to visit her blog to join in the discussion on "Preparing a God-honoring Schedule with No Regrets".

Preparing a schedule that honor's God is something that I really have to pray about. I used to be quick to say "Yes" to any and every request made of me, and it took time away from my family and time I needed for myself. I neglected my husband and bonus daughter when I added things into my schedule because of the lack of emotional strength to say no. I was afraid that if I said no, I wouldn't be asked again, or that some might see me as selfish. I also ran myself down quickly.

Because of three chronic illnesses, I require downtime. This means that I have to schedule times to rest. I am not like the pink bunny who has tons of energy. I do in my mind, but not in my physical body. Just as the apostle Paul prayed, I have asked God to remove these infirmities. Two I haven't gotten an answer on, but one I have. I know it will be with me for the rest of my life, and I'm okay with that.

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)

Learning to say no required that I do three things.
  1. Pray
  2. Grow up emotionally
  3. Think of my family and myself
In prayer, I learned that the Proverb below was true for me.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." ~ Proverbs 19:21

I had to learn to pray about requests that needed a place on my schedule before I said yes. I hardly ever say an immediate yes or no to anything now. My first response is usually, "Let me get back to you." And I do, whether it is 5 minutes or a day later. I run all my plans by God first, then by my husband. If either has a no for me, I say no. And I don't always give a reason, other than, "I'm sorry, but I hope you'll think of me again in the future on this."

In growing up emotionally, I learned that as long as my no was not out of lack of compassion, it was okay to say no. If people didn't like me for saying no, then they must not know the real me. If they chose not to ask me again, it was their loss. I do not say that in a mean way. I believe although I might not be able to carry dinner to a couple when my bonus daughter needed me to help her with a leaf gathering project, or when I was in the middle of a flare-up, that the next week I could be counted on to make an even better meal than one I could have made when I was otherwise engaged. I had to learn to rely on the love of the Lord, rather than the love of man.

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you." ~ Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

We can always rely on the love of the Lord. It will never be shaken or removed. The love of others, if it hinges on a yes or no answer, is not really love at all.

Finally, I had to think of my family and myself. I covered this above. If I am not there for my family and if I let myself become run down, what good am I to anyone, especially God, who is at the center of all my scheduling?

I have no "list of priorities." I have no 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. God is at the center. Everything else surrounds God.

Amy Bayliss used a picture in a Bible study that I have adapted to define my priorities. When we have God as the center of our priority, all the things we schedule fall easily into place.

Sunny asks the questions:

Have you ever planned your day, week or month, then regretted making the commitments you’ve made, wondering if your plan was the right one?

I have. I am a planner by nature and love seeing things all written down nice and neatly. When I see it all written down and realize I have over-extended myself, I now call to cancel committments I have made. Since I have learned to pray about the committments I made, I find myself not writing them down so quickly and I have fewer regrets now. I don't have it all down yet, but I am learning!

Have you ever wondered if you should’ve said “yes” to one person and “no” to another and just weren’t sure what the best thing to do was?

Oh, absolutely! I learned to pray about it and seek my husband's counsel, also. That's helped immensely with my scheduling snafu's!

Who or what does your schedule represent? Does it represent you, your affinities, or your love for Christ?

I can confidently say that it represents my love for Christ. This hasn't always been true. Before I learned to pray, it represented "Laurie Ann". It was all about me! I had good intentions, but it represented my works, not the grace God offers. Now I try to pray about everything I schedule. And when decisions are made for me, such as schedules at the office that I don't have control over, I pray that God's grace will help me get through them. He always provides a way.

I encourage you to seek God before you plan or schedule anything. Whether you have to duck into a bathroom to pray over a committment you need to make at church or whether you need to spend a significant amount of time seeking Him before you write out your schedule for the next month, especially with the holiday's approaching, seek Him.

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek." ~ Psalm 27:8 (NIV)

The Hebrew word for seek used here is baqash. It means:

1) to seek, require, desire, exact, request
a) (Piel)
1) to seek to find
2) to seek to secure
3) to seek the face
4) to desire, demand
5) to require, exact
6) to ask, request
b) (Pual) to be sought

I honestly believe this is what God wants us to do, not only regarding our schedules, but our whole lives.

S - Submit your plans to God, then run them by your husband.

E - Equip yourself by reading God's Word.

E - Enable yourself to be able to say, "No," when it means you will be neglecting God, your family, yourself, or others who require you to be there for them first.

K - Keep in mind who your schedule represents - you or God?


JesusRulzMe said...

WOW! Sister Laurie, I don't know where to begin...sooo much wisdom here! My fav was when you said:

"I run all my plans by God first, then by my husband. If either has a no for me, I say no."

And I ALWAYS LOVE your acronyms! I can never come up with any that make sense, let alone expound with wisdom!

I love you dear sister!

Melinda said...

I am here with you on this! I tend to take on too much too but lately the Lord has really been working on me with that and I have been able to say NO to things that do not serve Him and my family. It's incredbly freeing when we get over this hump and learn to defer to God's schedule instead of our own.

Homesteader in Training said...

Very well said my friend. Straight from you heart to ours. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being an encouragement.

Esthermay said...

There are a ton of books out there on the "art" of saying "NO." IMHO, I think they are all silly. You've pretty much covered it right here in this post. #1-GOD, #2-Husband. Everything else is peripheral. I like Amy's Chart, but I give DH a little more heiarchy. After all -- according to GOD -- he is my authority.
Hard to do when he's gone so much, but he's all the closer to my heart and thinking. GREAT POST! I cut and pasted your S-E-E-K. This is good.

Daniel's Mom said...

Amen! I love how you talked about going before the Lord and talking with your husband. I always talk to my husband too. Thank you!

LAURIE said...

Loved it Laurie Ann. I really loved that picture wheel, that is totally awesome and I might need to tuck that away for use later. thanks for sharing your heart with us today over AT THE WELL.

-Blessings, Laurie

*I'm also praying for you and your husband for Gods direction.

momstheword said...

I loved the picture wheel, that is really cool. Good for you for being wise enough to take care of your health and to know what you can and can't do. Isn't it great to be able to go to our husbands when we need an answer, and can trust that God will speak thru them?

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

Great counsel and wisdom here my friend.

((hugs)) to you

Joyfull said...

Beautiful post filled with wisdom and encouragement! So many times, it is easy to forget running things by husbands, but that is so important. Loved hearing about the priorities also. Thanks for blessing many today!