Thursday, September 27, 2018
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If you want to get into Manhattan from New Jersey, you have several choices. You can take a long bridge, one of two long tunnels, a ferry trip, or a long un-recommended swim. The Hudson River is really pretty wide when it reaches Manhattan, but it's not very powerful. If you could see the Hudson River near its headwaters in upstate New York, man, it's roaring along with a really strong current. Upstate its banks are confined and the force is greater. By the time it reaches Manhattan, it's not so powerful. The Hudson's so spread out that its power seems kind of weak by comparison. I know people like that.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Narrow Banks."
Just like the Hudson River, we tend to get spread over too many commitments, don't you think? And sometimes we don't have much power in any of them. We tend to accumulate commitments instead of making choices. We add new arenas without removing any old ones. Homework competes with extracurricular commitments, household responsibilities, youth meetings, friends. A business person says "yes" until his or her résumé looks impressive, but their contributions in each area are kind of insignificant. An overcommitted woman needs a valet just to manage all her hats: wife, mother, committee worker, volunteer, career person, creator, entertainer. By taking on more than we can possibly do well, we live in a direct violation of God's command to "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life" (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
I battle all those pressures, just like you probably do. And the difference I make in each arena is in direct proportion to my use of that most powerful two-letter word - "No." It was a word Jesus knew how to say.
Our word for today from the Word of God, Luke 4:40 - "When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and...He healed them. At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and they tried to keep him from leaving them." Time out! Your circumstances probably are different from that of Jesus', but maybe you can relate to that feeling of being tugged on from all directions. The Bible goes on to say, "But he said," - get this now - "'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.'" And the Bible says He left and did that.
There were still plenty of people left to heal, but Jesus said, "No." He had settled the "I musts" of His life. In this case, preaching to the other towns. Having settled His non-negotiable "yes's," He could say "no" to anything that would compromise them – no matter how worthy it was.
God may be asking you to take a time-out like Jesus did so often and sort out all those demands. He wants you to settle a handful of non-negotiables that no one can have – your "musts." And then make all your choices revolve around those non-negotiables because you want to stay powerful in the commitments you've made. Keep your life in narrow banks!
When you're facing choices like these, it helps to ask yourself some questions, "Could someone else do this? Is this something God has uniquely qualified me for? Is this something God has definitely called me to do? Is it something others could do?" Remember, it's better to make a big mark in a few places (like at home, for example) than a little mark in a lot of places.
That powerful two-letter word "no" gives you the blessed freedom to enjoy the commitments you've made and the concentrated power of a river in narrow banks.