Are You Guilt-Driven or Spirit-Led?

Why Rest?
In the last months of her life, I met a woman named Kathryn, wife and mother of two lovely young girls. Kathryn was fighting colon cancer. We were both newcomers to a Sunday morning Bible study. Her family was new to Indiana. My family was new to the church. I found Kathryn’s approach to life captivating. I wanted to get to know her, but I was hesitant. Wouldn’t she be guarded with her days?
“Kathryn, could we have lunch some time?”
“Oh Brenda, I would love to! For the first time in my life, I am a person with time.”
My surprise over the use of her words, “I am a person with time” must have registered on my face. She smiled warmly and placed her hand on my arm. “I finally have time for everything that really matters.”
Are you a person with time, time for everything at really matters?
Run Hard. Rest Well. is a ministry designed to encourage people to explore the use of time.
Time for rest.
Time for work.
Why rest?
Clarity. My friend Kathryn understood, with clarity, the purpose of her life. That understanding brought energy, delight, and focus to her days. These gifts can be ours, but too often guilt gets in the way. It’s a roadblock of monumental proportions. In the last post I mentioned there are eight roadblocks to rest. We took a look at six. Are you ready for number seven?
Guilt routinely dismantles our rest.
Guilt routinely blurs our calling, disrupting clarity and focus.
As caring, gifted, responsive people we are aware of needs and drawn to opportunities. For some of us, the needs of others and the wealth of golden opportunities before us flash like neon lights. Compelled to respond, we end up pulled in many directions, spread too thin, in over our heads.
Can you relate?
Guilt is a driving force behind much of our exhaustion. A remarkable story about guilt is tucked into the very first chapter of Mark. I missed its message for the first 40 years of my life, but it will act as a rudder for the next 40.
Jesus visited Simon’s home where his mother-in-law was sick in bed. Jesus healed her and the news spread quickly (Mark 1:29-38). That evening the whole town gathered at their door. Jesus ministered to each one late into the night. Waking up early the next morning, Jesus slipped away to a quiet place to be alone with his Father. As the sun rose, a fresh batch of people gathered at the house. As long minutes ticked into hours, frustration grew among the people. A group of disciples was sent out to search for Jesus. When they found him, they announced, “Everyone is looking for you!
Can you hear their intent to instill guilt? I can.
The people waiting at the house had legitimate needs and a real desire to meet Jesus. Yet listen to Jesus’ reply.
Let us go somewhere else . . .
What?! Those were real people with real needs and Jesus was going to turn his back on them?
As painful as that truth is, Jesus refused to be guilt-driven. Jesus chose, every step of the way, to be Spirit-led. Jesus’ holy yes to God’s plan for that morning meant an earthly no to real people with real needs.
Were those people disappointed? Yes. Devastated? Likely. Did God leave them out in the cold? No, not for a moment. I do not know how, when or where, but God in all his sovereignty had a plan for their lives—plans to pursue, heal, restore. Maybe that timing was going to unfold 3 hours later, 3 months later or 30 years later. I don’t know. But God did.
Will I trust him? Jesus did.
Why rest? Why slip away to a quiet hillside to watch the sun rise? Why schedule a day with margin in mind? Why take a walk? Why take a break? Because clarity is birthed in calm. This account of Jesus’ life reminds us that clarity comes from quiet times off the beaten path.
This week when a need arises or an opportunity comes knocking on your door consider these three suggestions:

  1. Stop. Refuse to answer on the spot. Reply, “Let me get back to you.” Then pray. Listen carefully. If you are living with little margin, any “yes” will demand a “no” to something, whether you want it to or not. What will that be? Face the truth.
  2. Know your mission for the season of life you are now living. Name it. Claim it. Be incredibly sensitive and prayerful about any “yes” outside its domain.
  3. Following Jesus’ lead, remind yourself that saying “yes” or “no” requires direction from the Holy Spirit. It takes conviction, vision and stamina, but it produces joy, confidence and a work of God that far exceeds the guilt-driven yeses we are often inclined to give.

Why rest?
The call of your life depends on it.
Mine, too.
There is so much more to explore on this topic, but the first step is about choice.
What kind of rest will you choose?
God appointed.

Note: This post is part of our original series on rest. We are reposting some of our favorite articles because we believe they’re just as important today as ever. We hope you’re challenged to think of rest in a fresh new way. Would you like to read the post that preceded this one? Click here.

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4 thoughts on “Are You Guilt-Driven or Spirit-Led?”

  1. This post was exactly what I needed to read this morning. I have copied your three suggestions down and plan to post them on my desk.I have taken some good steps towards the boundaries I need for this season of life, but guilt is such a powerful enemy. I need to identify guilt for what it is and pray God gives peace for every ‘yes’ and ‘no’.Thanks Brenda! Stephanie Maxson | Music Director 2131 Getz RoadFort Wayne, IN 46804Phone 260-432-2033 | Fax 260-432-8363

  2. Beautiful, Brenda. I’ve walked the guilt ridden life. Nothing was ever enough and definitely not good enough. As my body has said “NO” in a real and forceful way, I can stop. I can do lunch. I can take time for people. I can get away with God. I was once told that if Jesus came to be a healer, He would have set up practice and hung up a shield. Instead, He came for relationships. Does He heal? Of course! But He took time with His Daddy and, if we take time to be with Him, we will find the same peace and direction He did.

    • Betty —

      Amen. Amen. Amen Jesus came for relationship!
      Apart from Him, life IS never enough. We are never enough and Satan has a hey day with these lies as we beat ourselves up.
      He came to have lunch, not lecture. (Rev. 3) Tea Time with Jesus changes everything.

      Love, brenda


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