Saturday, February 5, 2011

Was Jesus balanced--or integrated?

I've been using the word "balance" for years. But I'm not sure the concept of balance actually works.

I've got to learn how to balance my work, social, and ministry lives.
I'm off-balance and had to pull out of that activity.
What we need is a more balanced approach.

Sound familiar?

Recently my friend Mary Byers shared this quote:
"Forget the idea of balancing work and family. Think of "integrating" instead, making everything and everyone an important part of a holistic life."
-Julia Klein

Let's take the example of Jesus, for instance. I can't say He was your average well-balanced individual. He made fresh wine for people who already had enough alcohol. He miraculously created food for huge, untenable groups of people who were hungry. He healed those he chose to heal, then ducked into anonymity to protect himself. He withdrew to mountaintops for prayer when needed. He said "he had food to eat you know nothing about" and skipped meals. But that was nothing compared to his 40-day temptation in the wilderness where he ate nary a morsel. He wept at the death of His friend Lazarus. And he stayed up all night sweating drops of blood before His impeding crucifixion. He told truth in subversive stories many didn't understand and ate with those the prevailing religious culture deemed "most unacceptable."

He wasn't balanced. But He was full of the rhythms of grace. "I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it to the full," he said. He was fully present in every moment and ready for what each situation required. His integrated life reeked of wholeness and holiness, the gift of His presence and the withdrawal from activity when needed. He was fully integrated.

In the quiet moments, isn't this what our hearts truly long for? In my prayer times, I sensed God was giving me the word ENJOY for 2011. My life is made up of a thousand different pieces, and my usual course is to run around frantically, to procrastinate, to obsess, and to stay on the treadmill. Instead, I am trying to rejoice in the Lord in every activity (Philippians 4:4).

I enjoy the food he provides me at breakfast. I delight in a client Skype meeting, the stringing together of words for a project, the simple joy of baking gluten-free scones that will nourish my body and encourage others. I stay in the moment, lingering, until the next activity or person calls me on. No day is perfectly integrated, but with God's help, I am moving more gracefully, responding more holistically. I am enjoying the abundant life He designed me for.

Are you trying to integrate your life? What obstacles--and joys--do you face?


  1. Interesting thoughts, Suzie. I have been continually reminded lately that there is nothing "reasonable" or "controlled" about the Gospel! We're not called to a balancing act, instead we're to plunge headfirst into life in the Spirit. Truth to tell, the integrated life can be both frightening and freeing.

    And your scones definitely were an encouragement to me - thank you, sister!

  2. Jesus had a unique, uncommon life. Part of what continues to inspire me is how he lived as God while being fully human. What would be different in our 'being' if we were fully human, aligning ourselves with God as Jesus did, rather than living in comparison to those around us and trying to be 'someone else'? I really enjoyed this post.

  3. I've pondered, many times over the past 15 years or so, why God called and gifted ME to preach and teach. Then, the Lord moves me to speak or do something in unplanned and planned places, and it is during and after those times that I am, again, filled with humbling joy. I get to see some of what God is doing/has done! Though, not every time am I priviledged to get a glimpse of the results - but, often enough to keep me encouraged, as I'm sure we can all attest to. The Lord is good.

    Not only am I female (and understand being an anomaly in theology and sermon prep classes - and behind a pulpit), but, I live in a body that is physically UNbalanced, leaning to the side of more downtime than uptime, it seems. It can be frustrating - moreso in the early years of answering God's call to ministry. I've had to learn how to "go with the flow", and have found myself doing things beyond my capabilities, in the power of God, many times. It is amazing what God will do with, seemingly, the least likely.

    I keep learning the lesson that God can be trusted to provide that which is needed; that I know and see so little without the help of the Holy Spirit in me; and that I need to look beyond my handicaps. There are so many different kinds of handicaps of seemingly 'healthy' people's lives. The Lord moves me in gracious merciful care for the sakes of mislead, hurting, doubting, discouraged or broken souls, to hopefully and prayerfully speak what is appropriate for the group, situation and/or person, and to give an assuring or affirming physical touch. Hugs are my favorite, but not always appropriate, or possible.

    Jesus' power shines in and through those of us who are trusting and resting in his salvation, in whom the Holy Spirit fully dwells - even though, and especially because we are not so powerful in ourselves. God strengthens and encourages the weak. And, we all have weaknesses of one kind or another, don't we?

    May all brothers and sisters of King Jesus, with God as our Father, and with the help and impetus of the indwelling Holy Spirit, become all that the Lord has individually and collectively purposed for us and called us to do. May we keep ourselves pure and lovingly devoted to our Father, like our Brother and Lord. May we be redeeming change-agents who point people to the one and only Savior, the One who has made possible a forgiven - and full - relationship with God. It is through the Royal Priesthood (1 Pet 2:9), in obedient partnership with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, whereby not only we are saved, but we can save others from Satan's destruction. Let's do it!

  4. Yeah, I love new commenters! @Anonymous, I like your thoughts on the humanity of Jesus. @Teresa-your words are a needed challenge to my own physical weaknesses: a genetic history of depression and lymphedema in my right leg. I often wonder where and how God wants me to minister--but am starting to realize that in God's economy, our weaknesses actually UNIQUELY QUALIFY us for service. Whatever service He calls us to. You're right: we can trust Him to provide what is needed.

  5. I like your thoughts here! I have been thinking along these same lines lately. And I really love that you've looked to Jesus and the model.

    See my post on juggling vs. integration!