This one hits close to home for me. My dad was one of – if not the – hardest workers I’ve ever known. He was also one who played hard. He loved riding snowmobiles, riding horses, pretty much anything out of doors. I inherited one of those qualities.

Through my early adulthood I spent a lot of time with my dad. He taught me a lot of skills that I still use quite frequently. But with rare exception the only validation I received from him came from work. My mom, on the other hand, was a rule keeper.

Whether we realized it or not, a lot of our understanding of the character of God comes from our parents and likewise our children’s view of God comes from us. If our parents were stern, distant, loving, permissive, if they abandoned us, or were overbearing, that is typically how we perceive God. Consequently, my understanding of God was that I needed to work hard and “be good” or more accurately “not be bad” to earn God’s favor and maintain my status as His child.

I was well into adulthood before I began to break free from this mindset. I still struggle with feeling as though I have not done “enough,” which makes it difficult to relax and simply be. I often remind myself that I am a human being not a human doing, which helps keep my thoughts more “in phase” and the shame that drives them in check.

One scripture that has helped me know that I have done “enough” and it’s okay to relax is John 15:1-17, where Jesus said in part “if you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”

Using Jesus’ analogy, on our own we are nothing more that a detached twig and our only use is to be thrown in a fire, where we will contribute to a momentary warmth, but burn out quickly.

In order to keep our work/life balance in phase we need to balance work with rest and the nourishment that comes from relationships—first with God then with others. Jesus did this. He poured Himself out then retreated to spend time alone with God in prayer and enjoy the fellowship of his friends/disciples. He makes it clear in the parable of the vine and the branches that on our own we can produce nothing, but if we “abide in Him” we will bear much fruit.

God calls us to minister through work, service, and sacrifice. He also calls us to worship, to rest, to “not forsake gathering together.” When these two things are balanced they serve to keep our focus “in phase” through a constant state of filling and emptying. Like the vine and branches the branch doesn’t have to concern itself with anything but staying connected to the vine (relationship with God). When the vine is connected “fruit happens”.

As a result of feeling as though “it’s all on us,” “we never do enough” and the like, we can easily busy ourselves to the point we actually limit the fruit we are able to bear. This seems counter-intuitive, but in reality the vine bears better fruit when the suckers (the shoots that grow from the branch but bear no fruit) are pruned.

I continue to identify things in my life that I feel as though I must “do” which are limiting me from the fruit I could be bearing. Another quote from my pastor which has helped me with this is “Our worship fuels our ministry.” As I continue to try to get this area of my life “in phase” this thought has been a tremendous help. I hope it helps you too!

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