Unforced Rhythms of Grace | Matthew 11:27-30
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. 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 11:27-30 | MSG
Subtracting a day of rest each week has had a profound effect on our lives. How could it not? One day a week adds up. Fifty-two days a year times an average life span is equal to more than eleven years. Take away eleven years of anything in a lifetime, and there will be a change. This is a law of the universe: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Subtract over a decade of sleep, work, or education, and the entire character of one’s existence is altered. Multiply eleven years times a third of a billion Americans, and you are looking for a lost continent of time. ~ Matthew Sleeth, 24/6
A lost continent of time. Quite the image! A decade of rest over a lifetime – as opposed to just another decade of more work. Many rabbis of old believed that if everyone kept the Sabbath just one day, the kingdom would come and all would be right with the world. What if Jesus hasn’t returned as many have predicted recently for the simple reason he knows everyone is far too busy to notice if he did come or even look for him? What if he were waiting for us all to simply stop and look up? What if he were waiting for us all to really take him up on his invitation and offer? “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Learn to live freely and lightly.” How foreign this sounds, even to much of Christianity as we know it. It’s antithetical, almost, to Christianity as we practice it – a Christianity that frequently identifies busyness, stress, and weariness with spirituality. Even the day we often view as our true Sabbath (Sunday) is too often its own exhausting whirlwind of activity. Once again, none of this intended as a guilt trip. Just an opportunity to stop, to sit down, and to ask ourselves, to ask God, “Why am I doing what I am doing? What is driving me? What am I after? And what would you have me be and do, God?” Just in that simple Sabbath exercise of stopping to weigh and ponder, we can reap unimagined benefits. And we might even find ourselves resting, if we’re not careful…
Just how foreign does Jesus’ invitation sound to you? Are you experiencing “unforced rhythms of grace”? How?
Lord, where I am not busy enough, spur me to healthy activity; where I am over-committed and over-extended, give me the discernment and discipline to stop and to responsibly step back and away.
Begin praying over and considering your weekly rhythm and schedule. Pray about what taking a weekly Sabbath “Stop Day” would look like for you – which day would work not to work, what you would do on this day, and what you wouldn’t do.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.