A Time to Search and Keep, A Time to Give Up and Throw Away

Galatians 6:9 (The Message) says, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”

I live in North Carolina, and the good Southern women I know have a phrase they use to sum up Galatians 6:9.  They say, “do not grow weary in well doing.” They also describe bad times as when they are “out of rest” instead of saying they are tired.  I love a good turn-of-phrase like these two. They just roll off the tongue and make being bone-tired as a mom sound appealing rather than what it actually feels like: soul crushing.  

The past year or so has left me feeling “out of rest” in so many ways.  Maybe you can relate. Right now, I am out of rest from having surgery of my own and burying my mother and closest grandmother in the span of a year. My heart is weary from searching and keeping.  Searching for meaning in sickness and death. Keeping memories alive of lost loved ones.

Ecclesiastes 3:6 (NIV) declares “a time to search and keep, a time to give up and throw away.”  It would be easy to legitimize my grief using the second half of the verse (give up and throw away) as excuses to Netflix-binge, sleep too much, and order takeout right now. Instead, I feel God encouraging me to push through my grief by giving up (surrendering) my right to have reasons for sickness and death.  

He wants me to throw away certain parts of my old normal to make way for the new phase of my life.  This is a new phase where I can no longer rely on my Mamaw for advice every day. I have to let go of my jealousy when I see friends relying on their mothers for help with party-planning and date nights when I have none.  

Have you been there?  Where you are so low, you have to completely surrender your searching and keeping?  I have had to open my hands to God multiple times and say, “I surrender.” If I am truly about the business of not giving up on God’s plan for my life, I have to give up, throw away, and let him plant me like a seed in His idea of “well-doing,” not my own.  Maybe when we feel buried, He’s actually planting us so we can reap a Harvest far greater than anything we could search for, keep, give up, or throw away in our own strength.

Mark 14:7-8 (NIV) says, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could.”  This is a story of Mary of Bethany, and how she was an example of making a hard-won sacrifice. All she had was her jar of perfume, and she used it all to bless Jesus.  We will not be able to spend our entire lives in service to others, but we can spill out our lives to bless Jesus when we invite Him into our suffering, our searching, and our keeping. Mary did right by searching and keeping for a season.  She searched for ways to honor Jesus and know the truth. She kept her perfume for a special occasion. But she also knew when it was time to give up and throw it away to make a way for the next phase. Mary’s reward for that hard-won sacrifice was some ridicule but an even greater blessing: a planting for better days ahead even though she was losing something really precious in the Harvest.  

I do not know whether you are recovering from surgery right now too, or if you have a brand new baby you are nursing, or if you are feeling tired from the demands of work plus marriage and all the stuff that comes along with Harvest time in your world.  Whether this is a time of recovery or some new phase that is also fraught with exhaustion and feeling quite literally poured out, be blessed, Mama. He uses it all: our doing good and our well-doing.

What do my Southern church ladies mean by making a distinction between doing good and well-doing?

“Doing good” is the obligatory packing of the canned goods for the food and supply drive or buying more fundraiser goodies when I would much rather order something for the house or myself on Amazon Prime.  “Well-doing,” however, is the deep work the writer in Ecclesiastes reminds us to do: “give up and throw away.” When I give up and throw away the old normal, I am really planting seeds with the old wisdom to make a way for the new wisdom He wants to grow in me. He wants me to fully surrender so he can plant me deeper than the world’s expectations to do more and know more. He wants the same for you, Mama.

So much has been lost in the past few years, but in my new normal, I have new blessings to search for meaning in and keep treasured memories of:  my darling husband is healthy and my five-year-old son is a riot, and my amazing friends, extended family, and coworkers are just the healing balm I have needed for my soul.  Aren’t you glad God hears the word, “Help,” even during times we are “supposed to be” thankful and energetic?

I urge you, fellow burdened Mama, to pay attention to the sounds that usher in the Harvest: rustling leaves, preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving, a gurgling tractor motor in the distance, even your own zipper on your favorite fall vest or jacket.  These are the sounds of our own reward for not giving up, for fainting not.

And finally:

Your faith in the unseen harvest creates a reality right now that is good and holy.
Your diligence in the mundane daily duties creates riches in Heaven and even your future on Earth.
God is pleased with your seeming wasted time just as much as your hard-won sacrifices.
Surrender your searching and keeping; it is okay to give up and throw away so He can plant you.  

?Written by Jo Perkins

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  •  “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1, NIV)
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)
  • “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:11, NKJV)

Music to inspire you:

  • “Confident” by Steffany Gretzinger feat. Bobby Strange: “I won’t win this battle by the strength of my own hands. You’re the mountain-mover and only You can. I won’t build my life on sinking sand. You’re my hope forever, the rock where I stand!”
  • “If You Want Me To” by Ginny Owens: “So if all of these trials bring me closer to You, then I will walk through the fire if You want me to…”
  • “Heroes” by Amanda Cook: “You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment, and I will worship.”

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

Living Out the Truth

Ideas to try:

  • Host an IF Table Gathering (Jennie Allen) – I have hosted three of these before, and they are such a blessing.  The table conversation starters are free to download, and you do not have to feel like a Bible study expert to host one.
  • Shine App (Kelly Clarkson)  I set up this as a daily text every morning.  It really helps me set a positive intention for my day.
  • Style your Mantel (Joanna Gaines)  Decorating for the season is a great way to be encouraged and not grow weary in well-doing.  When I light a Leaves scented candle and adorn my mantel or other spaces in my home with the colors of fall or winter, I feel refreshed even though we have a little less sunlight in our days.
  • A woman I respect very much at my church who has four adult children now encouraged me to walk around my home, all the way to our property lines, praying for protection and thanking God for every part of our home.  I do this alone or with my husband at least once a year. Literally praising God out loud for your physical possessions seems like a spirit-filled way to usher in Thanksgiving at harvest time.

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more. In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}