Sometimes it can be hard to understand where anger comes from, but the aftermath of an angry storm is never hard to miss. You lash out at your sister, brother, best friend and then you wonder why it happened.
Sometimes these things happened because our hearts are heavy, full of hurt and pain from out past, but sometimes it happens because we haven’t followed God’s commands to rest and care for our hearts and souls. Maybe you have never heard of this soul care before. Read on, see how it can change your life.
It was the beginning of summer. I had landed an internship out in Denver earlier that year and was eagerly anticipating the start of something new. For me, summers can be confusing. People say, “Oh, what year are you in school?” Summers are like no man’s land. The land of not a junior anymore, but not a senior quite yet. So, this was the summer before my senior year of college.
I was pretty excited to be headed off to Denver, doing something different, new, exciting. I wasn’t sure exactly what all the internship included, but I was ready to learn and see what God had in store. If I had only known then how he would forever alter my life.
A little background: I enjoy moving, doing things, running around, harassing my friends and doing life. I love trying new things and may or may not over commit myself on a regular basis. The past two years of my life had been hectic: 18 credit hours, golf team captain, two jobs, FCA, family, friends, boyfriend, another campus job, weekly volunteer work, campus events and…oh I remember, homework! Lots of it. I thought I was doing pretty well. I mean, I was; I did everything and I did it well. I didn’t have the luxury of a lot of spare time, free time or down time, whatever you want to call it;, but I was happy.
At the end of my junior year I really struggled. Did I want to keep my campus job or not? I really liked the idea of the position; I had done it the past two years… but… in the end, it was a lot more grunt work than I cared to do; my heart wasn’t in it anymore; I didn’t feel like I was able to use my strengths the way I wanted to, and I recognized that maybe I needed to slow down. I chose to pass on the job to someone with fresh energy, passion and excitement. This would free up seven or eight hours a week for me. Time to do something new!
When I made it to Denver I was tired from the drive. My boyfriend helped me unload my car and we said good-bye for the summer. The first week there was training week. We went on a retreat to the mountains and learned all about our positions. Second day of the training trip, things are going okay. I’ve made my assessments of each intern and I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. As we head inside I feel my phone ring. We had a short break and I recognize the area code as one from school. With curiosity, I answered.
When I hung up the phone I was in shock. Then it hit me; they had cancelled the golf program.
For those of you who don’t realize the impact, they had just cancelled four hours a day of my life for both the fall and the spring, not including tournaments each weekend, most of which were road trips away to different nearby states. 16–20 hours of practice each week and at least one whole day a week for tournaments. Poof. Empty space. Looking back I don’t know which hurt more, the pain of losing the team and everything it meant to me or the thought of all that down time with nothing to do. All those hours, plus the giving up my campus job. I had practically 40 hours a week with nothing to do! That’s like a full time job!
I was upset, trying to process everything, but I got into the rhythm of things in Denver pretty quickly. My internship was time consuming, but not strenuous in any way shape or form. I had to be there, but often I had nothing to do. I expected to work, but they just wanted to hang out…
It was tough! For someone who just wants to move, check things off and find newer, faster, more efficient ways of doing things, I felt lost, uncomfortable and crazy doing next to nothing. Looking back though, God was with me. I would even venture to say that God was trying to teach me something.
You see, I got a lot done and got it done well, but in those past two years, I hadn’t spent much time with God. I hadn’t written anything in my prayer journal, something I had been doing since 7th grade, and I could probably count on two hands the times I had cracked open my Bible for my own personal growth. I had good friends, but my relationships weren’t great, deep, personal and challenging. They were friends to hang out with, but most importantly, I had been running myself dry. I was supposed to be pouring spiritual guidance into others with my campus job and volunteer work, but I was empty. My relationship with my family had always been good, but I would find myself getting angry more than I care to admit. It was easier to keep to myself than to invest in others because I was a firecracker ready to explode. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had spent a few hours, went outside and just done something fun for me.
Over the course of the summer and over my last year at school I followed God’s lead and did something different. He had given me the time, like I said, about 40 hours a week. Now was my chance to try again. I thought I had been fine before, running at full speed everywhere I went, but when I slowed down, filled those hours with life giving things, new things, fun things and time with God. I became a new person. My friendships deepened in ways I never thought possible. I tried dance and coaching, two things I had always wanted to do, but never had the time or courage to try and I loved it! Those are two things that fill me with joy, things I will do the rest of my life. Then I started spending time with God again. He has been teaching me great things, things about love, patience and about letting go.
I still get angry sometimes, but not like I used to, because I have been following God’s rhythm for life. I work, I rest, I play; and when I get angry, I go back to that rhythm. I work hard, rest well and play often, and my anger eases.
When we look at Ezekiel 20, we see another group of people who didn’t understand God’s rhythm for life. The prophet Ezekiel is talking to the Israelites, reminding them of all that God has done for them because they have forgotten his commandments again.
Look at what God keeps bringing up. I think it’s interesting that God chooses to focus on their breaking of the Sabbath. You see the Sabbath was a day of rest, a day when the Israelites were commanded not work. To us this may not be a big deal, but for them, for that time, it was. No other nation had that day of rest. It was something that set them apart as God’s chosen people. What’s interesting is what God says after commanding them to obey his laws, which includes resting on the Sabbath. He says to follow his laws, “which bring life to anyone who obeys them.”
Have you ever thought about rule following as life giving? I hadn’t, but God says it over and over again through the prophet Ezekiel. Check it out!
Scripture: Ezekiel 20:1–24
- Maybe you can relate to the intro story. Do you find yourself always at a sprint through life? How has that been so far? Have you ever thought about how God might have something better planned for you? What might that be? Dream.
- What did you think about God’s emphasis on Sabbath? How have you obeyed or disobeyed this commandment in your life so far?
- Take a look at John 10:7–10. Do you believe God’s promises for you? Think about your life. How have you seen this? How have you seen it in other people’s lives, people who live honoring God’s commands?
- Have you ever thought about how your anger may be affected by the way that you live your life? Looking back, how can you see it now?
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Thank you for the rhythms you have created. I think about the Israelites and how they didn’t get it. Help me to see and understand your ways better. I have been running at full speed for awhile now. Help me to slow down; to understand that it is okay to slow down, good to slow down. This task seems impossible to me; we live in a world where success, efficiency and money are valued much more than the things that you value. Remind me of the things I have learned. Teach me your ways. Guide me and protect me as I continue to seek your face.
I pray all these things in Jesus’ name,