Don't Keep Striving

1:30 PMHeather

Author's Note: This is the first in a prolonged series of blog posts outlining my recent class called "Sabbath Living:  Learning the Sacred Practice of Sitting at the Feet of Jesus."  By way of explanation, I was privileged to share a five day study at Moose Lake Gospel Camp (pictured below) in northern Alberta, Canada, in July 2014.  The precious ladies who shared their time with me have requested that I offer the information on my blog.  This series--these teachings--are a word first to me.  May they be an encouragement to you, as well.

"I sat bolt upright in my lovely hotel room at midnight with one thought in my head:  no one needs to tell these women to keep striving...."

These were the words of Sarah Bessey last February as she began her talk at the IF Gathering in Austin.   As she spoke about learning the unforced rhythms of grace, my heart cried out YES.  YES, I want to learn how to live differently.  I want to quit striving.  I want to cease working so hard to run on treadmill of performing and earning like some hamster on a wheel.  Sarah Bessey could have come all the way from Canada to Austin, Texas, to simply get this message to me.  Because it has echoed within me ever since.

There is more.  

Because there is less.

There is more that walking with Jesus is meant to be.  More than rule following and being a dutiful servant.  More than some distant God bent on grading and assessing my every move.  More than a heavy, burdened religion that weighs me down as I keep striving.

Because there is less required of me than I make it.  I complicate my faith by adding to the simple message that Jesus so emphatically preached with the bold exclamation of his death on the cross.  Less about me.  In fact, less of me.  

More of Him.  More of His love.  More of His grace.  More of His yoke, which is not heavy.  More of His burden, which is light.  

Less of that which makes me feel tired and worn out and burned out.  

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  

This verse summarizes a journey for me.  A journey of the last two years as God has called me to deconstruct my religion and trade it all for relationship.  Daring me to truly embrace and believe GRACE.  Living it out.  For the first time.  After following Him for decades now. Challenging me to really--for the first time--seek to understand His love.  Not His rules.  Or a task list.  Or how to be a good Christian girl.  

But to understand the scandalous love of a Savior.  To study and dive into how He lived on this earth.  And to learn to rest in His love as I follow His footsteps to be an instrument of grace to the hurting world around me.  To begin to grasp the breadth and depth of His love for me...and to be so rooted in it and moved by it that it overflows to those I encounter.  

This.  This is my heart's cry these days.  To read through the Scripture passage above and breath in the hope it offers.  Because I am tired.  I am worn out.  I am burned out on a religion that offers burdens instead of hope.  

And I'm ready.  Ready to recover my life.  Hungry--no starving, in fact--for real rest.  Not just a good night's sleep.  But rest for my soul. Wanting to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  Learning to live freely and lightly.

Will you join me in this journey?  Because my life has been declaring a truth of burden and performance and elitism. And I want to quit carrying the weight of being a servant and learn how to become a friend of Jesus.

To soak in, to the marrow of my bones, a Jesus who came to be Immanuel.  God with us.  

Unforced rhythms of grace.  May I learn to sync my life with this staccato. Slow and steady.

Blog post #1 in a series on Sabbath Living: the Sacred Practice of Sitting at the Feet of Jesus.

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