"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, September 30, 2011

CHICKEN RUN - PART 1

Matthew 11:28 (NIV) Jesus instructs his listeners, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."



When I was a little girl we raised chickens. My gruesome task was to pluck the feathers from these lifeless birds after they were slain. To give you an accurate picture, I’ll just say I didn’t grow up playing Barbies. Naturally, I did a lot of boy things since I had brothers. You know, mud-slinging contests, slug catching and war.

Our family gathered outside for the exciting event of a particular evening. It was butchering night. I distinctly remember my dad chopping off one of the chicken's heads with an ax. While my brothers re-enacted the scene like Rambo, I sat on the porch grossed out thinking they were pretty insensitive. I was repulsed by the idea that this animal would soon be my dinner.

What happened next was unbelievable. When my dad released the beheaded chicken, it actually ran around our yard like a frantic animal trying to figure out where to go and what to do. It was funny to watch, but I also felt sorry for the helpless and hopeless little fella. It didn't take long before the poor guy collapsed and met his fate.

Can you relate? Have you lost your mind? Are you frantically running around trying to make sense of your circumstances. Truth is, you are going to collapse eventually.

God's been seeking to interrupt my chicken run life. He’s been pulling my shirt like a child trying to get their mother's attention. His nudges for me to slow down, pull back and re-evaluate my tireless commitments have been consistent.

On several occasions I had to admit I needed to change some things, but I rationalized, Just as soon as "this" project gets completed things will slow down for me. No sooner did one item on the list get finished another well-intention request arose. And, thus went the cycle of juggling too many things.

Being overloaded occurs too easily. Like a tower of wooden blocks we can only balance so many things. Often it is the "extras" in life that topple the stability we strive to maintain for our family and marriage. When this happens to me, no matter how good these extra things are, my husband and children ultimately suffer.

For example, after school recently when I should have nurtured, loved and checked on my boys' day, I sounded more like a drill sergeant spouting out commands: "Change your clothes, eat your snack, start your homework and there will be no soccer practice until they are finished!" Sound familiar? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

The real problem was not that my children were being anything other than boys, but that I was already drained by taking on too much. I neglected their needs and took my frustration out on them. It was as if they were in the way of all the "extra" things I needed to get done! Ouch! This specific day was exhausting but it wasn't their fault, it was mine. And, I would like to say this only occurred once, but...

On a different day, I was so consumed with me and all the things on my list, I neglected to even ask how my husbands’ day went. Nor did I look for ways to serve and be available to him. As a wife, I am called to be a helper to my husband. But, when I overextend myself to other things it inhibits my ability to keep my priorities in order.

Jesus instructs his listeners in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus extends this invitation to all who are burdened, loaded or weighed down by circumstances. While the context of this verse specifically relates to the yoke of the Pharisees, the principle to come to Jesus for rest is still applicable to our lives.

The people Jesus addressed were oppressed by the religious legalism imposed by the Pharisees. The yoke of law-keeping created tremendous guilt and weighed these people down because they could not keep up with the Pharisees expectations. By contrast, Jesus’ burden is light. Jesus invites the crowd and invites us to cease from movement and come be refreshed in Him.

Similar to the Pharisees, we too can impose unrealistic expectations for our lives by weighing ourselves down with too much to do. We may not feel burdened initially, like a chicken who can run around without it's head, but eventually our family will suffer the consequences resulting from our lack of maintaining proper priorities and boundaries.

We all have days that are too full. Like an exhausting game of leapfrog, we jump from one thing to the next. I get it. But when the chicken run life becomes the norm instead of the exception we are headed to a place of defeat; spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Being proactive in stepping back from the chicken run life required me to be intentional. I started removing the extra clutter by first writing down everything outside of my family that required my time. Then, I assessed how much time these extras took and how much I should realistically give to them. Finally, I removed what I felt was keeping me from maintaining proper priorities and boundaries. Lastly, as humbling as it is, I had to admit I simply could not do it all and was never intended to.

The freedom I experience is fulfilling. Because I am managing my time, keeping proper balance, and maintaining my priorities with God and my family, His peace covers me. My boys and husband are experiencing a more relaxed version of me when they come home from school and work.

Christ is where we find the rest needed for our souls. When we come to Him, He wants to turn our chaos into calm, our rushing into resting and our weariness into worship. We just need to be willing to cut back the clutter in our lives. Are you?

This recovering chicken is off to the kitchen to grab a knife. What’s for dinner you ask? Chicken pot pie...thank you very much!




Heart Work:
Write down everything that requires your time outside of your family. Honestly assess, according to the season you are in, what is reasonable for you to give.

Delete, delete, delete those things on your list that inhibit you from maintaining your priorities.


Heart Exam:
Repent if you think your children or husband are in the way of your agenda/list. Ask God to help you never lose sight of your loved ones.

Do you feel worn out? How can you better manage your time? Why is this important?

Are you willing to admit you simply cannot do it all? What are you willing to do to be refreshed spiritually, emotionally and physically?


Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) "Be still and know that I am God."

Exodus 33:14 "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Psalm 62:1 "My soul finds rest in God alone."

Psalm 62:5 "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him."

Isaiah 40:29 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

Matthew 11:28 "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."




Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.