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Have you ever found yourself “working so hard for Jesus” that your attitude went sour and you suddenly realized that you resented everything you were doing. I have. I’ve run around like a cat with a bag clip clamped on it’s tail “doing things for Jesus,” only to realize that I was really doing them for me–for my glory. So someone would look at me and say “Wow! She’s amazing. Look what she’s doing.” And Jesus kind of got lost in the chaos. I’m not sure how well I was really representing him, and our relationship was certainly suffering. Unfortunately, I’m so hard-headed that it took moving to the other side of the world and having all of my “ministry opportunities” stripped from me to understand this.
So the question of the day is: Is it okay to “be” in relationship with Jesus instead of “doing” things for him? Culture sometimes says no, but Jesus says yes. When we are “being” children of God everything else falls into place. Jesus makes it simple. He only asks two things from us. Love God and love people. That’s it! But we can’t do either of those things well if we’re too exhausted from “serving” him to think straight.
There is a freedom and a joy in discovering what God really desires from you, and knowing that he has no intention of wearing you out and bringing you to the brink of exhaustion and burnout. Jesus said in Matthew 11, “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.” (The Message–emphasis added)
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an excuse to do nothing. But “being” is about who we are–not about what we do. When who we are comes from living in vibrant relationship with Jesus good things flow out of us, and for the right reasons. There is a verse in Galatians about this that rocked my face off. Paul wrote, “The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” (The Message–emphasis added) Wow! I couldn’t say it any better.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that when I enter into the things that God is doing for me I’m not exhausted and burnt-out, I’m rejuvenated and recharged. God delights in seeing us use the things we love and the gifts he’s given us to glorify him. I’ve found that saying no to some things (even good things), so I can be free to say yes to what Jesus is really asking of me, allows me to love God and others more powerfully and truly.
Is there anything heavy or ill-fitting that you’ve put on yourself that Jesus is inviting you to relinquish?
What have you given up that brings you joy because you’re too busy to pursue it anymore?
What is God arranging for you? Are you ready to embrace it?