Matthew 11: 38-30 (the message)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
This morning I had to give myself a spiritual “time-out.” Lately I have been feeling “tired” and “worn out.” Not just physically tired but the kind of tired where you feel like you are pushing up hill. Sometimes we have to walk up hill on our journey, but I have been catching myself becoming negative. I have sensed that judgemental heart I used to have creeping it’s way into my thoughts and words. Yes…Time Out. I do not want to go there again.
As the rain was falling I just turned the lights back out and turned my iPod on to my worship playlist. I sat in my kitchen and asked God for His forgiveness and help. The last thing I want is to get so caught up in the stuff of life, even the good stuff, that actually being near Jesus and resting in His presence gets pushed to the wayside. See, there is a difference between praying and reading my Bible and taking the time to worship Him…to be with Him…to rest in Him. Resting in Him is not about anything I can do or bring or offer…except myself and my time. It’s me just telling Him how much I need Him and taking the time to worship Him. To love Him and then be still and quiet so Jesus can soothe my heart…refresh my soul.
As I was having my time-out this morning I sensed that whisper in my heart say “striving vs. surrender.” And I knew, right away, that my “worn out” state of late is due to striving. It is so easy to drift into a place where we stop leaning on God’s grace and filling in our lives to enable us and we start working and worrying things out in our own strength. I don’t know how many times I will do this before I get it for good. Perhaps I never will! But when I start to become frustrated, worn out and negative my Heavenly Father will eventually show me I am striving. I am trying to control outcomes. I am trying to “be” more or better than He is asking of me at the moment. I could never produce more or better in my life than who Jesus enables me to be through His presence in my heart. Can I just say that as my favorite Kim Walker song plays ( I Surrender!), I sense the rest Jesus talks about in the verse above. He wants us to live “freely and lightly.” That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges or things to do…but learning the unforced rhythms of grace, to me, means learning how to flow with the Holy Spirit in my life. God will not lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on me. So, if I feel heaviness and an ill-fit in my daily life I am either striving (relying on my own strength) or I am attempting to do things or be someone God is not asking me to do or be. He intends to be my source and when I just draw near to Him, He meets me.
I want to become the person God made me to be. I want my family, as individuals and a unit, to walk in the ways and purposes of God for our lives. My heartfelt prayer is that God will teach me how. Teach me how to walk out His plans for me every day without getting so caught up in the plans that I leave Him out of the equation! There is such an amazing peace, joy and strength for life in knowing Jesus. Once you have it then you know something is “off” in your life when you lose it, which is a wonderful blessing! It is all the evidence I could ever need of the reality of a personal relationship with my Creator. It’s precious and its value exceeds anything else I could ask for in life.
Father, thank you so much for sticking with me. Thank you so much that your love draws me. Having been healed and changed by your love and presence makes it undeniably my addiction and medicine. I ask for each person who reads this post that you touch their heart. As they read the scripture about being burned out on religion please open their spiritual eyes to see that knowing you is not about striving to be religious. Knowing you is not at all about what we have to offer you, it’s what You have done for us…what You have to offer us. I know that Your grace is so hard for us to accept. We only seem to know how to work on a merit scale…needing to earn our place. Lord Jesus, please let our hearts understand, even if our heads don’t, that changing and growing in You comes from spending time with You. That all You have for us to do and want us to be comes through You. It’s so easy to strive and try so hard to become what we think we should be. I ask you to break the chains of striving off of our lives, in the name of Jesus. I ask that Your presence touch every heart that reads these words, enabling us to see that surrendering to You is what takes the pressure off and brings change. Striving brings guilt and frustration. Surrender brings freedom. In Your name, Jesus.