Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What am I Going to do with Myself?

Last week as I was musing about the change of seasons in my life, people’s question “What are you going to do with yourself now?” kept nagging.

Not to worry, I have lots of things to do.  Besides all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and shopping there is to do to keep a family of seven going, there is also piano lessons, sports, church stuff and 4H.  We have two dogs and one rabbit.  Plus, I like to read and try to exercise.

So, just because Maren is spending 8 hours a week at preschool, I’m not exactly free as a bird.

At the same time, things are getting easier.  I can do projects without being interrupted as often.  The kids do not need constant supervision like they did when they were babies and toddlers.  I can kind of, sort of remember those days.


So, what am I going to do?  Now that my time constraints and responsibilities are changing, what does God want from me?  I did enjoy a little alone time last week.  That’s good to do.  But more time doesn’t mean I should become more self-involved and turn inward.

I think I found some guidance in some verses I was reading last week.  One of my favorite verses for a long time has been:

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11

It’s underlined in my bible.  Who doesn’t want to be satisfied and strengthened?  Something I have learned doing inductive Bible studies over the past few years though, is that you have to read the verse in context.  What’s before it, and after.  What is going on in history?

Well, if you read the verses right before those, that are not underlined or highlighted, it says this:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”  Isaiah 58:9b-10

These verses come when God is pleading with Israel to come back to him and turn their back on stubbornness and idolatry.  He is telling them that although they legalistically continue to fast, when their hearts are not right with Him and they continue to sin it means nothing.

That’s why in Isaiah 58:6-7, he says,

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

It seems that God is interested in me using my time for others.  Spending myself for the oppressed and needy.  Not using every extra minute for my own selfish desires. 

My heart is so heavy for women.  There are so many pressures and hurts that it feels impossible to make it through life.  Maybe there are ways I can use my time to encourage other women around me.  It might be as simple (and delicious) as having a cup of coffee. 

My heart is especially heavy for young moms.  It is a hard stage of life.  Oh, it’s super wonderful too.  But the exhausting, relentless needs of babies and toddlers wears on you.  It did on me.  And I don’t think I even realized it.

One way I could spend myself for others is to offer help to other moms.  Maybe I could babysit for an afternoon so they could get a little alone time.  Maybe at the lake.  Or maybe just a nap. 

I just about had an epic fail already.  One of my friends needed me to watch her two and four year old today.  I really didn’t want to.  How would I get all my stuff done while chasing a two year old?  Plus, I’m kind of over changing diapers.

But guess what?  Having a two year old here is absolutely delightful.  I fed her doughnuts and candy corn which I’m sure her mom will appreciate when she tries to put her down for a nap. 

There are people around me that need help.  They may not be a slave or walking around with no clothes but they need the love of Jesus.  It’s plain to see that God wants me to use my time for that.  To spend myself.  Not just spend on myself.

And as Isaiah says,

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here I am.”  Isaiah 58:8-9