Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

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, Message)

Once again I’ve done it – overcommitted my calendar, my time and my energy. I think this is a gift, really, as I do it so well and with such little effort. “Yes, I’ll be there! Sure, no problem, I can do that! Oh, won’t that be fun – would love to!” Boundaries? Margin? Oh, I start off with good intentions, and even put a scant bit of padding around some activities on occasion. But it’s a fleeting thing, and before I know it, quicker than a go’round on the hamster wheel, there I am again, full throttle into exhaustion.

What I love about this version of Matthew 11:28-30 is the simple phrase “unforced rhythms of grace”. Most days are forced for me: I have to force myself to get up in the morning, force myself to plod along (and try to stay awake), force myself to go here/there (often forcing myself not to speed), force myself to get to bed at a reasonable hour, force my brain to stop so I can actually fall asleep (unless, of course, I just drop into a coma because I’ve stayed up far too late). Ah yes, Luke Skywalker, the force is certainly with me – and making me crazy.

“Unforced rhythms of grace” – sigh… just reading and thinking those words immediately puts me into a calmer frame of reference. I envision a stream glittering in the sunlight, a lightly wooded path redolent with wildflowers, kissed with the soundtrack of nature. I actually begin breathing deeper and slower, and I feel the tension ease in every muscle. I think of the unforced rhythm of treetops as they gently dance in the wind.

Like the old hymn that Billy Graham used in his crusades, “Oh Lamb of God, I come… I come”. I want to recover the life You have planned for me, Father, not this insanity of days and nights cluttered and littered with this and that and the other thing. I am so addicted to busy I can’t even get out of my own way. I’m not even sure I remember how to sit down and focus for more than a minute or two. I come to You, to sit at Your feet, walk by Your side, and learn how to rest, to live freely and lightly. I raise my eyes to You to learn Your unforced rhythms of grace. I slip my hand into Yours, Abba – hold me tightly, and lead on. Let me walk with You today.

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