Thursday, October 29, 2009
What keeps many of us from growing is not sin but speed.
Most of us are going as fast as we can, living life at a dizzying speed, and God is nowhere to be found. We're not rejecting God; we just don't have time for him. We've lost him in the blurred landscape as we rush to church. We don't struggle with the Bible, but with the clock. It's not that we're too decadent; we're too busy. We don't feel guilty because of sin, but because we have no time for our spouses, our children, or our God. It's not sinning too much that's killing our souls, it's our schedule that's annihilating us. Most of us don't come home at night staggering drunk. Instead, we come home staggering tired, worn out, exhausted, and drained because we live too fast.
Speed is not neutral. Fast living used to mean a life of debauchery; now it just means fast, but the consequences are even more serious. Speeding through life endangers our relationships and our souls.
Voices surround us, always telling us to move faster. It may be our boss, our pastor, our parents, our wives, our husbands, our politicians, or, sadly, even ourselves. So we comply. We increase the speed. We live life in the fast lane because we have no slow lanes anymore. Every lane is fast, and the only comfort our culture can offer is more lanes and increased speed limits. The result? Too many of us are running as fast as we can, and an alarming number of us are running much faster than we can sustain.
Speed damages our souls because living fast consumes every ounce of our energy. Speed has a deafening roar that drowns out the whispering voices of our souls and leaves Jesus as a diminishing speck in the rear view mirror.
Spiritual growth is not running faster, as in more meetings, more Bible studies, and more prayer meetings. Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down. If we want to meet Jesus, we can't do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest stop.
While the church earnestly warns Christians to watch for the devil, the devil is sitting in the congregation encouraging everyone to keep busy doing "good things." I just received a letter from a woman minister who was on the edge of crashing and burning. She and her family had joined a growing, active church and quickly volunteered to help. But two years later, she realized that her entire family was speeding by each other in unrestrained zeal to lead one activity or another at church every week.
"Run faster!" this woman's church bulletin screamed, but the only way she could save her soul from death was to slow down, which meant finding a new job.
Sin does not always drive us to drink; more often it drives us to exhaustion. Tiredness is equally as debilitating as drunkenness. Burnout is slang for an inner tiredness, a fatigue of our souls. Jesus came to forgive all our sins, including the sin of busyness. The problem with growth in the modern church is not the slowness of growth but the rushing of growth.
Jesus came to give us rest.
We know we are ready for God to work in our lives when we're tired. When our lives begin to weigh us down, God is present in the heaviness. It turns out that it's weariness that's next to godliness, because when our souls are tired, we are able to hear his voice, and according to Matthew 11:28, what he's saying is "Come. Rest."
The ugly truth, however, is that many of us do not know how to rest.
Actually, we do know how to rest; we simply refuse to rest. Rest is a decision we make. Rest is choosing to do nothing when we have too much to do, slowing down when we feel pressure to go faster, stopping instead of starting. Rest is listening to our weariness and responding to our tiredness, not to what is making us tired. Rest is what happens when we say one simple word: "No!" Rest is the ultimate humiliation, because in order to rest, we must admit we are not necessary, that the world can get along without us, that God's work does not depend on us. Once we understand how unnecessary we are, only then might we find the right reasons to decide to be with Jesus instead of working for him. Only then might we have the courage to take a nap with Jesus.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Great article talking about the Sabbath and taking time to rest.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Since the whole topic of dating and relationships can't possibly be covered in two home community meetings, I thought I'd stretch out the conversation into the blogosphere...I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on Andy's blog. Check it out!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Note: Again, these are not words of my own, but dang are they good and worth sharing. At Refuge last night, Ben shared his testimony and some words from this book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I just ate it up and had goosebumps by the end of the story.
In our culture, I think we've learned to hide ourselves and some of us are all too good at it..it's time to get found.
In the early dry dark of an October’s Saturday evening, the neighborhood children are playing hide-and-seek. How long since I played hide-and-seek? Thirty years; maybe more. I remember how. I could become part of the game in a moment, if invited. Adults don’t play hide-and-seek. Not for fun, anyway. Too bad.
Did you ever have a kid in your neighborhood who always hid so good, nobody could find him? We did. After a while we would give up on him and go off, leaving him to rot wherever he was. Sooner or later he would show up, all mad because we didn’t keep looking for him. And we would get mad back because he wasn’t playing the game the way it was supposed to be played. There’s hidingfinding , we’d say. And he’d say it was hide-and-seek, not hide-and-give-UP, and we’d yell about who made the rules and who cared about who, anyway, and how we wouldn’t play with him anymore if he didn’t get it straight and who needed him anyhow, and things like that. Hide-and-seek-and-yell. No matter what, though, the next time he would hide too good again. He’s probably still hidden somewhere, for all I know. and there’s
As I write this, the neighborhood game goes on, and there is a kid under a pile of leaves in the yard just under my window. He has been there a long time now, and everybody else is found and they are about to give up on him over at the base. I considered going out to the base and telling them where he was hiding. And I thought about setting the leaves on fire to drive him out. Finally, I yelled, “GET FOUND, KID!” out the window. And scared him so bad he probably wet his pants and started crying and ran home to tell his mother. It’s real hard to know how to be helpful sometimes.
A man I know found out last year he had terminal cancer. He was a doctor. And knew about dying, and he didn’t want to make his family and friends suffer through that with him. So he kept his secret. And died. Everybody said how brave he was to bear his suffering in silence and not tell anybody, and so on and so forth. But privately his family and friends said how angry they were that he didn’t need them, didn’t trust their strength. And it hurt that he didn’t say goodbye.
He hid too well. Getting found would have kept him in the game. Hide-and-seek, grown-up style. Wanting to hide. Needing to be sought. Confused about being found. “I don’t want anyone to know.” “What will people think?” “I don’t want to bother anyone.”
Better than hide-and-seek, I like the game called Sardines. In Sardines the person who is IT goes and hides, and everybody goes looking for him. When you find him, you get in with him and hide there with him. Pretty soon everybody is hiding together, all stacked in a small space like puppies in a pile. And pretty soon somebody giggles and somebody laughs and everybody gets found.
Medieval theologians even described God is hide-an-seek terms, calling him Deus Absconditus. But me, I think old God is a Sardine player. And will be found the same way everybody gets found in Sardines – by the sound of laughter of those heaped together at the end.
“Olly-olly-oxen-free.” The kids out in the street are hollering the cry that says “Come on in, wherever you are. It’s a new game.” And so say I. To all those who have hid too good. Get found, kid! Olly-olly-oxen-free.
Robert Fulghum – All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten