“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.” Matthew 11: 28-30 (MSG)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I don’t like being ‘in’ ministry. I feel tired and worn out. I feel frustrated with ‘religion’ and complacency in the church. I feel my kids’ time gets neglected. I feel lonely. It’s all so stinkin’ hard! I want to take the mask off and shout I am not fine.
As many of us do, I juggle children’s schedules, ministry commitments, getting dinner on the table, and laundry washed (notice I didn’t say folded or put away because that would require more than I can manage a lot of the time!) … and keep my own spiritual life afloat. I have few in my life with whom I feel I can share these deep feelings with and receive grace. I feel I am expected to do everything right, all the time. Feeling isolated has propelled me to dark places.
Recently, I was meditating on Psalm 46 and a phrase I have heard my entire adult life leaped off the page at me, drawing my soul to conviction. I have read verse 10 many times, “Be still and know I am God.” In the NASB, it says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” CEASE. STRIVING. Man, oh, man! ‘Cease’ indicates intentionality better than ‘be still’ does. Cease carries with it the connotation of an imperative command, do it now. I was immediately confronted with the question, “What am I striving toward that I need to cease?” After pondering this question for several days, I was faced with another question, “What am I striving toward in ministry that I need to cease?”
Drowning in the dark places of other’s expectations of what ministry should be and feeling isolated forced me to embrace my dependence on my God. In ministry, I had been striving to do everything on my own, not embracing the unforced rhythms of grace that flow when I walk in His company. I was not able to live freely and lightly as a result. I needed (and need reminding) to cease striving to please everyone else, to doing everything ‘right,’ or doing everything myself.
When I cease striving…
- My calling is not ill-fitting or too heavy for me.
- I feel energized.
- I feel adequate to deal with those He places in my path.
- I feel full, both personally and spiritually.
- I see and feel the unforced rhythms of grace.
Where and how do you need to cease striving so you can walk in His unforced rhythms of grace?