Last week we looked at two practical things that help us to refuel, especially spiritually – (1) Spending time alone with God every day and (2) participating in church gatherings every week. These practices are part of how God refuels us for our journey. God works through BOTH our personal relationship with him and our community with other believers. BOTH are important. One without the other will be detrimental to our faith and our well being. Let’s continue today with some additional things that can help us refuel, not just spiritually.
- Enjoy Your Family and Friends.
God created for us for community – for meaningful relationships. No one was meant to do life ‘alone’. God himself is a relational God, existing as three persons within what is referred to as the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Son of God come to earth, spent hours with a small group of people, his disciples, who he called his ‘friends’ – walking along the road, rowing a boat, eating a meal (Mark 3:14). Then Christ’s followers in the early church spent much time together with each other. They “devoted themselves” to activities such as “fellowship”, which means close relationship and partnership together in life (Acts 2:42-47). This all goes to reinforce that life is all about relationships (“people”) not tasks (“things”). Yes, there are tasks to accomplish and things to do, but these exist to serve people. Relationship first, task second. How often we get it wrong.
Friends are a valuable gift from God. Don’t isolate yourself. When you’re stressed, you need your relationships more, not less. What a joy it is to spend time with ‘emotional replenishing people’ – those who pour back into us rather than draining us. Spend time with people you enjoy being around. The family is also very important to God. Love your family and develop warmth and intimacy with them. No one on their deathbed wished they had spent more time in the office. Plan special times and events together with your friends and family members. Learn to have fun, to recreate, to enjoy life and to laugh. Develop a good sense of humour. The more you enjoy life the healthier you tend to be. The Bible says that a “cheerful heart” is like a good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Special times with family and good friends are a great way to refuel!
- Plan Regular Time for Rest and Recreation.
God didn’t design us to work constantly without rest. God worked for six days and then rested on the seventh. Not because he was tired or because he needed time off, but because rest (not working) is good. The Sabbath was established in Old Testament times for rest and relaxation from the busyness of the week’s work. Although, we don’t keep a literal Sabbath Day under the New Covenant, the principle of taking regular time for rest and recreation is still as true today as it was back then. God blessed both work and rest. Good quality rest can restore your good mood as well as your capacity to function. God made us spirit, soul and body. We often neglect our soul and our body thinking that these areas of life are not ‘spiritual’ or important. The truth is that we need a holistic view of life. God is interested in our spirit, soul AND body (1 Thess.5:23).
Jesus also, in all his busyness of ministry, took time aside to rest and to sleep when he was tired. Jesus, though completely God, was fully human. He experienced our physical limitations and he had to look after his physical body. This meant proper exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep. A balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate rest give you energy, improve your health and extend the length of your life. They help you to refuel.
Jesus also set limits and arranged for times of rest (Mark 6:31). In the same way, we need to learn to relax (“let go”) and rest without feeling guilty. Relaxation is a wonderful “stress buster”. It reduces stress. Relax hourly, daily and weekly. Force yourself into inactivity. Be quiet, get comfortable, relax your muscles and focus your attention. Like a rubber band, we are designed to be stretched but if we never have times of relaxation we will begin to crack. Regular times of rest and recreation are great ways to refuel!
- Invest Time in Reflection and Contemplation.
The Sabbath was not only a time for rest and recreation. It was a time for stillness, reflection and contemplation about life, its meaning, its direction, and God’s activity within it. It was a time for spiritual renewal - to reconnect with the holy and recharge the internal batteries.
Jesus took regular time aside from the demands of the pressing crowd to connect with his Father and ensure that his priorities and his life’s direction were aligned correctly. Was Jesus a workaholic? No. Yes, he at times pushed himself to the limits, but not all the time. He set limits in his life and he took time to reflect and relax (Luke 5:15-16). Jesus often pulled out of the pressure and busyness in order to “centre” his life, spending time with his Father. This was his custom – his frequent pattern of action. As a result of regular reflection and contemplation, Jesus always knew what was important (his priorities), he learned to say ‘no’ to the unimportant, and he remained emotionally healthy.
These are the kind of benefits that can be ours when we take regular time for reflection and contemplation. Here are some good things to do while “reflecting”:
- Think about the good things God has done in your life. Adopt an “attitude of gratitude” by regularly reviewing what God has done – blessings, answers to prayer, etc. Taking time to think of all the marvellous things God has done cultivates a grateful attitude and a positive outlook on life, despite current other challenges. Learn to celebrate what God “has” done. Don’t always be living in the future. Enjoy the “moment” and celebrate now. After all, “This (today!) is the day that the Lord has made …”
- Be still and “wait on the Lord”. God often meets us in “stillness and quietness” (Psalm 46:10; 37:7. Isaiah 30:15). We need to learn to slow ourselves down and create “space” for God to speak. God spoke to Elijah through a “small still voice” not through the crashing thunder or earthquake. As the speed of our life increases, the quality of our inner world often decreases. Many times, we suffer from “hurry sickness”, which is an inability to slow down, which damages the quality of our life, often resulting in great stress.
- Listen for God’s voice. Ask to know God’s mind and heart. What does he think and feel – about you and about the world? Ask God for direction and guidance, for answers and solutions, for insight and wisdom, and for creativity. Write down what you hear (Habakkuk 2:1-3. Rev.1:19).
- Evaluate your life. Have a good honest “check-up”. Like David, ask God to search you (Psalm 139:23-24). What trouble and difficulty we could avoid if we only opened our heart up fully to the Spirit of God. Ask yourself strategic questions such as: “What lessons am I learning? Are you heading in the right direction? What’s going well? What’s not going well? What HAS to change?” “When” you do these things, is not as important as the fact “that” you regularly and consistently do them.
Reflection and contemplation are very important ways to refuel!Conclusion
God has a purpose and a plan for each one of our lives. He wants us to fully understand it then pursue it with great passion. He wants us to live life to the full – enthusiastically and joyfully. For that to happen, we need to engage in regular times of refuelling – activities designed to help us replenish our spirit, soul and body. We all get tired and drained. We have limits. We are human. However, God desires to refresh, renew and revive each one of us.Sample Discussion Questions
- What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘an emotionally replenishing person’? What qualities does a person like this have? How can you be one of those kinds of people for others?
- Describe the best time together you ever had with your family. What made it so memorable?
- Describe your most relaxing holiday? What made it so good?
- What is more important - managing our time OR managing our energy ? Discuss the difference.
- Do you find ‘reflection and contemplation’ an easy and rewarding things to do (Yes or No)? Explain your answer.
- Read Matthew 11:28-30 and then have time praying for each other, especially for those who feel a strong need to refuel at this moment.