A Word in Season — November 24, 2013

Read: Matthew 11:28-30


“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.”

I found myself explaining to my children last night that I had work to do today, Friday, which is supposed to be my “day off.” When they challenged me on this, I carefully worded an explanation of how I usually manage my day off. It means that I don’t jump out of bed and shower and dress, but instead I go straight to my study and do the kind of work that requires quiet, unhurried time; things like reading, writing, planning, etc. This conversation was uncomfortable, as I found myself justifying a form of hypocrisy in my life. I believe in rest. I am convinced that I need time, maybe not a full 24 hour period, but disciplined time in a weekly rhythm to step back from “work.” Eugene Peterson described his early years of ministry as very hard work planting a new church. He confessed that he worked hard because he didn’t want to fail. “I realized I wasn’t working out of a sense of calling. I was working out of fear.” That’s when he and his wife started taking a weekly Sabbath on Mondays, and they maintained this practice for the remainder of their life long ministry. I want to learn to ask myself this question regularly, am I working out of a response to God’s calling, or am I working out of fear? Do I fear people’s opinions of me? Do I fear that I won’t accomplish what is expected of me? Am I believing the lie that my true value is determined by what I accomplish in a day or a week or a year? Rest is something we can practice that will reject this false idea of reality. Rest is rebellion against our culture’s definition of success and personal value.

Respond: Spiritual Exercise for week of November 24, 2013

Rest …
We are entering the season known as “The Holidays.” The etymology is easy to discern. These are supposed to be Holy Days. Let’s use the opportunity to consider the holiness of rest. If you can try not to use your alarm clock this week, but sleep as long as your body can. If we are to connect meaningfully with those with whom we share these holy days and hours, we cannot do it if we are exhausted or distracted. As we enter the “Holy Days” remember what the angels said when they showed up, “Do not fear.” Dinner will be fine. Your reputation as a great cook will survive. If your loved ones walk on un-scrubbed floors, or set their dishes un-shined counters, they will be just as tasty. Insist on rest, and gather in peace.

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