Wednesday, 18 January 2017
I’m more of a dog person, but the other day a lady caught me yawning and told me I looked just like her cat. Oh dear. How can we get beyond this weariness?
Our symptoms are obvious–the cat-like yawns give us away. No wonder Jesus’ words bring quick tears and fluttering hope to us. He’s not loading us down with more, he’s offering us something. What?
Listen again to his words, this time in a paraphrase:
“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.”
What an offer. But is it too good to be true?
The cynical among us shake our heads. No way. What’s the catch? We’ve been duped before by people who promised to help us and ended up creating more work for us. Other “helpers” have offered us free services which turned out to have hidden costs.
Thanks but no thanks. We’d rather keep dragging our load behind us than end up disappointed again.
The overly responsible among us have trouble letting go. We don’t like to ask for help, because we feel like we should be able to get it done by ourselves. We get a little defensive when people offer help. Do they think we’re going to drop the ball? Or worse, quit? We’re not quitters or ball droppers, thank you very much. We were raised to finish what we started. By self.
So we brush off offers of help. Or make excuses. In doing this we are refusing rest.
What excuses do you use to refuse rest? How can you and I get beyond our excuses?
It takes a lot for some of us to come to an end of ourselves. We’ve been trained by the culture around us to think we can do everything. To think we’re supposed to do everything. Being weak, needing help is not the American way. We’re not okay with it.
The young mom at home with her toddler feels unproductive because she can’t get things done, especially when her baby is teething and not napping. While she’s rocking and trying to sooth her crying child, she sees the unfolded laundry and piles of dirty dishes. She can’t even finish an email, much less figure out what to have for dinner. She figures she’ll just have to get up earlier.
The older mom who has to rush home at random times during the day to help her disabled adult child also struggles with frustration. She thought her days of interruptions would be over once her kids left for college. Instead of that freedom, she feels the double burden of resentment and fatigue. This wasn’t how she planned it, but in her mind, asking for help is not an option.
We hate needing help, and we have lots of strategies to avoid asking for it:
- Trying harder
- Getting up earlier
- Staying up later
- Cutting corners
But what if God wants to push us beyond our limits? What if he wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so we will turn and trust in him? We prefer to be self-sufficient, but he presses us to become “poor in sprit.” Therein lies our blessedness.
“The reason why most [people] despise his grace is that they are not sensible of their poverty.”
What Lies Beyond?
Grace. That’s what lies beyond our weariness, beyond our excuses. Grace is what waits for us beyond the stubborn self-sufficiency we all practice.
Christians know about grace. We start the Christian life by admitting that we don’t just need help, we need resurrection. Confessing that we’re dead in our sins, we obviously can’t save ourselves. So we turn to Christ. But even that isn’t done “by self,” he is the one helping us to give up and believe.
But once Christ has lifted us out of the black hole of our unbelief, we dust ourselves off, thank him for his Almighty help, and head off on our own. We try to move on from grace. We think the our life, this Christian life, is all up to us now.
But it’s not.
The Christian life is grace from first to last, not just begun but lived with Almighty help.
Jesus’ call to the weary is a call to you and me not just to start, but to live by his grace. Grace opens our hands to receive his rest, not refuse it.
But how can we do this? By taking Jesus’ yoke and learning of him.