Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pulling a Rachelle

Re-reading this book that I love this week called Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Mike Yaconelli, I came across this bit that I thought was also pretty relevant to last Tuesday's HC.

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.



Leisha said...

A. I love, love, love Mike Yaconelli and his books. I remember this very passage from when I read Messy Spirituality six years ago!

B. I love that you're talking about Sabbath. At Lahash it's so important that we have to report as part of our job, which day we took as a Sabbath each week. It's had a huge impact on my attitude toward work and toward my effectiveness in my job.

Leisha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon said...

love this.

what a great reminder to slow down...

which reminds me of an ellen quote (of course).

"Our attention span is shot. We've all got Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD or OCD or one of these disorders with three letters because we don't have the time or patience to pronounce the entire disorder. That should be a disorder right there, TBD - Too Busy Disorder."

rawster said...

I love this for a few reasons.

1. It's titled "pulling a Rachelle" and I suddenly fell so very cool and am smiling ear to ear. (thank you Karyn!!)

2. We are busy. And we need to chill out a bit. In the past I have been too busy that I don't even sense God's presense. He moves at a different pace and instead of moving at His pace and in His timing I like to create my own. That does not work. I get all off sink and feel out of wack - because I am.

3. I'm mad right now. I'm mad because a lot of people are so busy doing good things because other people don't step up and take on responsibility when they should. We need to find balance as a church and as a community. One person should not be doing everything! We all need to know when to say "no" - but some of us also need to know when to say "yes". Step up if God is calling you and help out. Other people are tired and they need some rest. You don't have to over do it.

okay. that's all. I'm done.

thatoneguy said...

"Take a nap with Jesus," that's my new motto :-)