Think about your life. What one thing, if it got better, would make the biggest difference? You will never get it perfect, but to grow, you have to get better. As we look at our capacity in different areas of life, our faith, marriage, family, work, finances, etc., let’s consider the truth in Jeremiah 6:16: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
The Reality of Capacity
The first instruction in this verse is to “Stand at the crossroads and look.” Take a moment to look at your life. Are you at a breaking point, at a crossroads? You can’t grow in your capacity until you take time to stop long enough to see where you are. If you want to reach your full potential you need to grow in your awareness, your abilities, and make right choices. The reality is that we all have limits. We have limited knowledge, experience, wisdom, gifts, abilities, time, and resources. Acknowledging that we are not all-wise, all-knowing, or all-sufficient is the first step to a better life. You have to be aware of your limits before you can expand your capacity. The apostle Paul said 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” So many people are overloaded. Many are burned out and running on empty. Did you know that it’s estimated that 75-95% of all doctor’s visits are stress related? We live in a hurry up, hectic, breakneck pace world. It has NOT always been this way. We need to rebuild the walls/boundaries. Dr. Richard Swenson says, “Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure.”
The Rhythm of Capacity
Twice in Jeremiah 6:16, the instruction is to ask. There are ancient rhythms to life, sunrise and sunset, changing of the seasons, etc. Our bodies were created with internal clocks/rhythms. Disrupting the body clock over long periods is associated with many diseases. Jesus was a carpenter, what we would call “a blue collar worker” today. Tradition tells us His earthly father Joseph died when he was a young man. As the oldest child he kept the family business going and cared for his mother. At age 30, he began to travel from city to city, teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. How did He do it all? How did He deal with overwhelming demands and stress? Jesus would get up early and pray. He would retreat with His disciples to get away from the crowds. He would go to a lonely place to be alone with the Father. Most of our stress comes from ignoring God’s principles. God gave us 10 commandments. There are 10 commandments, but we keep 9! Exodus 20:9-11 gives us the command to work six days and rest/sabbath on the seventh. Did you know more space is given to this commandment than the others? God had more to say about resting one day than adultery or murder. God said work 6 days, be productive. If you take a day to rest, you will be even more productive. You can do more by doing less. Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are two companies that have lived this principle. Chick-fil-A generates more annual revenue than chains that have more than twice as many locations and that are open 7 days a week. Hobby Lobby now has 1000 stores and gives half of their profit away! Six days a week with God’s blessing is far better than 7 days a week without it!
The Responsibility of Capacity
Jeremiah 6:16 ends with the command to walk in the good way. The promise is that if we do this, we will find rest for our souls. Life is made up of choices and choices have consequences. Your life is your responsibility and you can’t blame everyone else. You don’t let other people spend your money so why do you let them spend your time? Here are some practical tips to help you reach your capacity: avoid/limit toxic people, take vacation, totally unplug, build margin, simplify, enjoy the moment, and trust God. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God gave them a double portion of manna on Friday, the day before the sabbath. He can do more in a moment than you can do in a lifetime. I rather have 90% of my money with His blessing than 100% without it. I rather work 6 days with his blessing than 7 days without it.
As you think about growing in your capacity in life, ask God to show you His good way and to give you the strength to walk in it.
Take the Day Off Robert Morris
Margin Richard Swenson
Reactivity Limits Paul David Tripp
No Limits John Maxwell