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Obligation – an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to biting off more than I can chew, I seem to be an expert. So many times, throughout life, I have committed myself to do something, knowing full well, going into it, that it would take too much of my time and energy, and it was just plain not a good idea. More often than not, I have plunged forward anyhow, for one compelling reason or another. Too many times, it has been because I was trying to please others, instead of doing the thing I knew God wanted me to do. At the end of the day, each and every time I overrode the better judgment God instilled in me, I lived to regret thinking I knew better than Him.
Can anyone relate? If so, why do you suppose we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be spread too thin? Are we so proud? Could it be that we want to appear capable of doing it all? When we take on too much, something, or more importantly, someone, suffers. There is no human way we can do it all and do it all sufficiently. So, why do we over-obligate ourselves? Taking on too many obligations will inevitably always end us up at the same destination. Total and complete burnout.
In Psalm 131:1, David made a statement that has come to mean a great deal to me. “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” I don’t know what David had to go through in order to learn this invaluable life lesson, but somewhere down the line, he came to the wise conclusion that there were things he simply should not try to do. There were situations that were beyond his scope of ability. There were matters that were past his capability of being able to administer. To override these facts and to try to force the issue of tackling tasks that were too much for him would be an expression of haughtiness and pride, and he had enough discernment to acknowledge what he could and could not do and enough wisdom to not pursue those ambitions. Being armed with this knowledge and having this understanding must have relieved untold stress and turmoil from David’s life.
There are plenty of types of obligations that can be damaging to us and may need to be eliminated from our lives and schedules. Anything that is distracting or detracting us from following after a simple, Christlike, unencumbered life should be closely examined, considered, and possibly walked away from and shed.
Sometimes it boils down to the simplicity of learning how and when to say “no.” It is difficult to live a victorious, peace-filled life when you are overloaded with commitments and obligations that are beyond what God requires.
Oftentimes, God has to allow a situation to reach a certain height of misery before we realize a change needs to take place. Maybe He sees that it is enough already. Perhaps it is time to close that door…or chapter….so that we can live in this moment…today…now.
Sometimes, we can feel so stuck, we hopelessly assume that it is our never-ending lot in life, and we may as well learn to settle, accept, and deal with it. If you are in a situation that unceasingly vexes your spirit, causes you to lose sleep at night, makes you dread getting out of bed in the morning to face a new day, and fills your heart with anxiety and fear, I hope you will consider the possibility that God may be trying to arrest your attention. The misery you may be feeling could be coming from the fact that it is now time for a change. He may be trying to tell you to stop pursuing what is vexing you. He may have something so much better in store for you and your future. He will never force us against our will, but He loves us too much to fail to provide warning signs when we are headed in the wrong direction.
You are only one person, and that’s okay. You can only do so much, and that is all God requires. It is good to find a quiet place of solitude in order to be alone with Him and to assess every, single obligation and commitment. Take a pen and paper, and make a list. Then, re-write that same list in the order of Biblical priorities.
While assessing your unique obligational slice of the Whole-Person Pie©, here is a little acronym to help you get on track. I like to think of it as a M.O.P. to clean and tidy up the things that fall into the obligational category.
Management of Time – how am I spending it? Is there excess or mindless ways I am allowing it to be wasted? Life is short. Time is precious. Am I really managing the daily moments I am given in a Biblical, Christlike way?
Obligations – what have I committed myself to do? Is the commitment really necessary? Is it beneficial to the ones I love most? Are we receiving any spiritual good from this? Does it bring fulfillment? Are our lives richer because of it? Has God shown me to do this, or do I just feel obligated by others to continue? Am I under bondage to anyone? Do I feel “guilted” into doing it? Am I doing this for show or to earn accolades? Does this adversely affect the ones I love? Does it take time away from my family or keep me from being able to be what I should be to them? Is this meaningful? Does it please God? Take a long, hard look at even the “good” things, like ministry, Christian service, and outreach.
Priorities – are they in order? Do I make sure I put God first, above all else? Do I take time for my spouse? Do I nurture our marriage and pour into keeping it front and center? Do I make sure my children know I am all in? Can they come to me at any time, regardless? Do they feel hesitant to approach me because I consistently convey the message that they are less important than the things I am doing?
Ask yourself those hard questions, and be honest with your answers. Be still enough to hear the voice of God. Ask Him to show you what to minimize and what to keep.
If you find yourself in the wrong place or on the wrong path, may I encourage you, friend? All is not lost. Even when our well-meaning good intentions, do land us outside of God’s “Plan A” for our lives, He allows all things (even the bad) to work together for our good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
The truth of the matter is, He has taken every, single event in our lives thus far to refine us…to mold and shape us into the people we are today. And if God reveals that we are headed in the wrong direction, what a comfort it is to know that He allows U-turns. We can make necessary adjustments and turn around from where we are right now. He has promised to show us the way if we ask and seek Him with our whole heart.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6
“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
God bless you as you make hard choices and take the necessary steps to wholeheartedly follow Christ and His perfect will for your life.