EXHAUSTED! There's Got to Be a Better Way

9:42 AMHeather

 In case you're just now joining us, we've been discussing the idea of Sabbath here on this little blog.  I've been sharing teachings over the last fifteen blog posts all about Sabbath living.  The idea of trading a religion that burns you out for a life lived on the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).  The idea of living freely and lightly, following Jesus.  

Think we may be on to something, bloggy friends.  

Yesterday, in my mail box, I got the newest LifeWay Christian Stores mailer.  With THIS picture, big as Texas, filling up the cover:
Breathe is Priscilla Shirer's new Bible study.  Here is the description:

"One of the greatest challenges facing women today is taking time to stop and breathe amid the activities and busyness.  Because we rush ahead to the next thing, we miss the moments for tranquility, serenity, and repose. And by missing those moments, we limit our Christlikeness and miss out on some of God's greatest gifts...if you are weary, worn out and exhausted, the concept of Sabbath will change your life."

Oh, indeed!  We are weary and worn out and exhausted.  Aren't we?  As a culture?  As moms?  And as followers of Jesus?  

As if to add an exclamation point on this state of exhaustion, I came across this on my Facebook news feed.

That is the image on today's devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries.  You might want to check it out--if this sounds like you:

We are tired. And when life brings challenges, the little bit of margin we may have is quickly taken up. We find ourselves weary and then wonder why it’s so hard to enjoy our lives. - See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/god-will-give-you-everything-you-need/#sthash.RnMs3l8l.dpuf
 "We are tired. And when life brings challenges, the little bit of margin we may have is quickly taken up.  We find ourselves weary and then wonder why it's so hard to enjoy our lives."

If you want to talk back to that teaching, then I think you and I are on the same page.  We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  We are over it.  Just done.  Done with living out our lives and our faith under the burden of tasks and performance and activity.  There's gotta be more to it all then that, doesn't there?  

Exploring the answer to that question is what this whole blog series has been about. As God has been dismantling my wearying ways, I have been sharing it all with you.  I chose the word "love" for 2014, and what has unfolded is this journey of learning to breathe and to Sabbath and to recognize my full schedule and empty heart.

It's uncharted territory for me. I've followed Jesus most of my life in the same manner that I've lived my life.  Task lists, activities, gold star charts.  None of which have actually spoken to love.  Because I've been too busy trying to earn his love to even recognize the unopened gift of love sitting right in front of me.

A love that says my grace did it all.  Quit striving.  A love that says you belong.  Quit questioning.  A love that says take me at my word.  Quit doubting.  A love that says I am for you. You don't have to convince me.  

Whew.  Such simple yet profound truths. So, just how do I grasp them?  If all of that is really true, then how do I live?

Enter Mary, stage left.  

Not Mary as in Jesus' mom.  But Mary as in Martha and Lazarus' sister.  We've been looking at Mary throughout this series.  Because she shows us how we live if we really believe his love enough to float in it and abide in it and be changed by it. 

We sit at the feet of Jesus.  Just like Mary.  

Oh, yes.  I've learned the last nine months of this journey to Sabbath living that the sacred practice of sitting at the feet of Jesus is the perfect posture to take when you need to find a way to breathe.  A way to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  

In Scripture, we see this Mary at the feet of Jesus three times.  I've seen these three instances as a progression of a life centered on Sabbath.  And by Sabbath living, I'm talking about a life that finds rest in the Savior.  

In the first instance, we see that Mary is a follower of Jesus who wanted more than consumer faith.  She wasn't content to see what she could get from and give to Jesus.  She was singularly focused on tuning out the distractions and the activity so that she could listen to his teaching.  She chose the one thing necessary and Jesus called it the good portion that would not be taken from her.  Unlike her sister who was distracted with much and therefore anxious and troubled about many things (Luke 10:39-42). 

When we sit and listen to Jesus' teaching, we are soaking in his instructions, meditating on his word, and finding community with him by stilling ourselves before him.  This is what it means to abide in him, to dwell with him, to remain in his word and his love.  

This is the fine art of staying.  Not going or doing.  But staying.  Literally surrendering yourself in the position of student just as the ancient students used to sit at the feet of their Rabbi teachers as a sign of respect and submission and humility. It is said that these students sat so closely at the feet of their teachers that they got the dust of the teacher's feet on them.

I'm learning to ask.  Am I leaning into Jesus so much at this moment, in this day, that his dust clings to me?  How am I doing on the discipline of tuning out distractions and being still before my Savior?  Because there, at his feet, we hear him.  We hear him singing his songs of love and forgiveness and grace over us.  And this kind of intimacy with Christ spills over into how we interact with others. It is the rhythm of grace that shuts down the event of performance and activity.

So, like Mary.  May we learn the first step of Sabbath.  The sacred practice of centering our day-to-day lives at the feet of Jesus. Making this the rhythm of our lives.

The next time we see Mary at the feet of Jesus, it is at a time of great distress (John 11:1-44).  Mary, in the midst of incredible grief and sorrow, facing great suffering and hardship--throws herself at the feet of Jesus.  When her brother dies and Jesus shows up, she questions why he didn't come sooner.  She says that if he had come, then her brother wouldn't have died.  She wants to know where Jesus was and why this happened.  But, she doesn't just question.  She throws herself prostrate at his feet.

And he weeps with her.  This, my bloggy friends, is the brutiful act of running headlong toward Jesus in the midst of disaster.  It's the beautiful and brutal picture of seeking him even when we question him. Even when he doesn't feel safe.  And it's the place where we find incredible hope in the midst of our deepest and darkest sorrows.  

We weep at the feet of a Jesus who weeps with us.  We cling and cry to our Jesus, and his loving tender heart is moved.  We hold nothing back but surrender it all to him, remembering that he is working through our brokenness to bring new things.  New works.  New ministries.  Newly found strength of faith.  And new intimacy with a Savior who weeps with us.

Mary fell headlong into the prodigal or reckless love of our Father, learning to take on the light yoke he wishes us to offer.  She learned the unforced rhythms of grace.  She learned how to move from deliverance from her troubles and anxieties into freedom from them.  She chose to fall at his feet during times of suffering.  She looked to him with expectation when she felt broken and lame and she let him pour healing upon her (Acts 3:1-10).  She learned to live out the forgotten Biblical verbs like abide, dwell, stay, sit, rest, and remain.  She moved from old tiring ways to new things and a new heart and a renewed spirit.  

So, in the end, where did all this get her?  While I have loved these glimpses of Mary at Jesus' feet, this third and last picture moves me like no other.  Yes, Mary has captured my imagination.  She offers me hope that any woman can indeed trade the distractions and anxieties and troubles for the one thing necessary, which is choosing to throw ourselves at his feet and led him be our Shepherd.

So, what is the culmination of a life lived that focuses on Sabbath living, learned while sitting at the feet of Jesus?

Join me here tomorrow to find out.

Blog post #15 in a series: Sabbath Living: Sitting at the Feet of Jesus.

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