It's funny how busyness is different in different places. In residency, Dave was busy with work, Good Samaritan, meetings, call, etc. I was busy with Bible study, book club, and events. Now that we've moved here, a few things are the same--he still has call every week (though it is from home), and I still have Bible study. However, we've also found a way to be busy in other things.
We exercise. Every day (but Sunday--we rest our bodies). Since we have three children, daily exercise--together--is difficult. And boy, do we need one another! If we weren't there to encourage one another in it, we wouldn't do it. So, every night, after we put the kids to bed, we put in our DVDs. We do Gilad's (from FitTV) workouts. We do cardio and strength training, alternately, six days a week. It's huge for us! But, we've realized, that we have less free time in the evenings now that we exercise.
Dave commented the other day, "How did we get so busy here?" Well, we have a small group meeting on Sunday nights. We have a meeting in Conway every Tuesday night. I have a women's Bible study on Tuesday mornings. Dave is "off" (sometimes) on Wednesdays, so we run a lot of errands. It's busy, but it is a good kind of busy. We are much healthier than we've been in a long time.
Somewhere along the way, we started choosing to do things out of a desire to be healthy rather than a place of guilt or obligation. I remember being heavy laden in college with three Bible studies a week, church, community group, and a large student meeting each week (not to mention the part-time job and my classes). It was too much, and much of it, I did it because I felt like if I didn't that I wasn't spiritual enough. Now, the things I choose are out of genuine desire and not duty. It's healthier and more rewarding.
No longer do I cower under obligation. Though it may be kind of a silly way to go about things, I reached a point in my life where I wouldn't do something (even if it was good) if I was doing it out of guilt, shame, or obligation. Instead, I would only do those things when the desire came. I know some of you are thinking, "If I did that, I would never do any of the things I am supposed to do." That may be true. It wasn't for me, and that surprises me (because I believed that too)!
It seems like desire finally had the opportunity to arise because I was not giving obligation and duty any room to rule me. I guess, in a way, I learned to manage my freedom (in much the same way I'm trying to teach my children to do). I chose not to exercise. This had consequences. I was free from the guilt of obligation to exercise--I was not a slave to it, but the consequence for not exercising is getting fatter and flabbier. Suddenly, a desire to be healthy and fit arose, and I gladly chose to exercise. I made decisions, and I ruled my decisions instead of them ruling me.
Last night, after we finished "Cardio Strike!", we made some popcorn (and a bag of candy corn) and sat down to finish a movie we'd started. We started talking about how eating the popcorn (and candy corn) might not be a good idea. I said something like, "We're free to eat popcorn (and candy corn). It's not that big of a deal." Dave agreed, and then said, "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." (a quote from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23). We laughed about that because we knew that to eat the popcorn (and candy corn) wasn't sinful, but it wasn't going to be beneficial to us. Well, we ate it, and we felt gross afterwards. We managed our freedom, but we experienced a consequence that wasn't pleasant. Chances are that after we work out tonight, we won't indulge our appetites quite so much. But, we are learning to walk in grace and how to make good decisions for ourselves.
It isn't about following a list of rules. It's about walking in freedom, making good decisions in the power of the Holy Spirit, and pursuing things from a true place of desire. There is always a place for balance, and there are so many things I want to cultivate disciplines in (like meditation on Scripture, prayer, walking in the Spirit...), but I KNOW that I can't discipline myself to do things out of fear or duty because those are the wrong motives. Those kinds of works will not make it through the fire. Our Father is a good Dad. He knows we long to please Him and try our hardest. But even He desires that we do it out of desire and not duty. (Read Piper's little book, Duty and Desire...I forgot I read it until now.)
This is the abundant life Jesus was talking about...or at least a smidgen of it.