I’ve met believers who are models of the “balanced life.”

Their giving flows out of a beautifully balanced budget, and their lifestyles include all the right activities to develop balance. Their priorities undergo tough appraisal to ensure they are “properly” weighted. Even their service to Christ is balanced to carefully include “enough but not too much.”

But I wonder: Are people who strive for balance in their lives following Christ, or a value system concocted by the elusive “experts”? Have we elevated “balance” to a place never intended in Scripture?

JESUS:  A LIFE OUT OF BALANCE

Under the commonly held concept of the balanced life, Jesus was often out of balance. He missed meals, worked long hours, and seemed to have many short nights. We find Jesus getting up early to pray when He probably could have used the sleep (Mk. 1:35). He even spent forty days praying and fasting, to the point that the angels had to minister to Him.

Yet as we read through the Gospels, we don’t get the impression that Jesus was always pressing Himself and His disciples to the outer limits, continually neglecting physical rest and nourishment. It is interesting to note that it was Christ – not the disciples – who was concerned about the hungry five thousand.

How did Jesus decide when it was time to minister and when to rest? His statement in John 4 gives us a clue.

Jesus and His disciples, on the way from Judea to Galilee, were tired and hungry when they stopped in a small Samaritan village. Yet Jesus set aside His needs in order to lead an adulterous Samaritan woman to the “Living Water.” As His disciples joined Him by the town well, they were concerned about His need to eat, but He wasn’t. Christ responded, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work” (Jn. 4:34).

Jesus determined when to eat and when to abstain, when to work and when to rest by seeking His Father’s guidance.

Christ’s drive was not to achieve balance, but to do the will of the Father.

OUT OF CONTROL

Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, not a conceived “yardstick,” must determine our priorities as well. The goal in life is never “balance” but rather doing God’s will to the fullest, with all the energy and time God gives us. Like Jesus, we too will sometimes devote a disproportionate amount of time and energy to one area as we listen to and obey His Spirit.

God never intended for us to live “balanced” lives, with all aspects under control. While we may prefer to live within self-defined boundaries that allow us to be safe and in control, following Christ more often requires risk. We need to be willing to be “out of balance” so Christ can lead and use us where He wants us.

Faith begins to grow when we sacrifice something in our monthly budget to give a little more than last month, especially when it is focused on a need the Spirit has revealed. Dependence on Christ’s power meets blessing when we step beyond our comfort zone and give time and love to people around us … even when it takes resources we may not think we have or time we’ve intended to devote elsewhere. It seems that most of the work of the Kingdom is done by overworked believers with average gifts and few earthly resources. Perhaps these laborers don’t know about balance yet.

WHOSE AGENDA?

Spending years with Eastern European and Soviet believers changed my life in the area of balance. They were always “out of balance” by anyone’s measure. Food supplies were erratic, persecution was unpredictable, and change was constant. As a result, they did not worry about tomorrow but focused on fulfilling His will today. They knew God would take care of the rest.

And He did! None of them ever starved (though they often ate a lot of one food). They had adequate clothing. But most of all, God was powerfully working in and through them. Always giving and sharing, these believers saw God answer prayer, change lives, and fulfill promises.

The Apostle Paul challenged the Ephesians (Eph. 5:15-18) to live wisely, “making the most of your time”; not to be foolish, but to “understand what the Lord’s will is.” If we worry and think too much about “balance,” it is easy to fall into an agenda that stifles the Spirit’s prompting.

Somehow, we must trust that God is at work in us and that the way He is moving in our lives is part of a larger movement in the world. As we respond to His Spirit, God reveals to us the steps we are to take toward fulfilling His will … and this may pull our lives out of balance. Very often it is in these “out of balance” times and circumstances that God teaches us new and vital lessons because He has our attention. After all, when do we call upon the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”? When we are “out of balance.” He also works through us because our faith is alive and we are thrust into dependence on Him (2 Cor. 12:10). His power shows up best in weak people.

Let’s model our lives after those who followed Christ in the New Testament. They were abandoned to God’s will at any cost and allowed God the freedom to pull them out of balance anytime. As a matter of fact, they anticipated it. Most of their lives were spent drawing upon Christ in their “out-of-balance-yet-in-His-will” state. True growth and adventure with Christ takes place in “out of balance” living.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful out-of-balance life!

PAUL STANLEY, a former missionary in Europe.

DISCIPLESHIP JOURNAL

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