Burned Out on Religion
"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 (MSG)
Tired. Worn out. Burned out on religion. All of those words described the state I found myself in just over three years ago. After being in full-time ministry for more than 12 years, I was so frustrated, frazzled and numb on the inside I was ready to quit! Nobody, not even my husband, knew how I was feeling.
I was living a double life, in a way, but I was tired of the charade. I didn't want to fake it anymore ... I just wanted to let it go. The funny thing is, letting it all go was just exactly what I did. Only, I didn't let go by walking away from it all. I let go by learning to lean into God's grace.
Jesus' invitation to let Him set the pace of our lives seems tailor-made to fit this generation of weary souls, even though He spoke these words two millennia ago. Recover your life ... real rest ... unforced ... free and light living. This lifestyle of unbroken fellowship with Jesus is the goal of the rhythms of grace. Rhythms of grace are God's divine tempo for your life. It's not about what we do or don't do. It's about Who is setting our pace.
Think for a moment about rhythm and our most basic response to it: movement. I have a few playlists on my iPod that I listen to when I'm working out. There are different kinds of music for different kinds of movement.
When I engage in the slow and sustained movements of stretching, I listen to ethereal tunes or piano instrumentals. But when it comes to cardio workouts, that won't do. I need energy! So I pump my favorite Christian hip hop artist into my headphones. Why? Because the rhythm makes me move. How I move — the speed, the motion, the duration — is a response to the beat I am hearing.
The rhythm of the music sets my workout pace, but when it comes to the pace of my life, I have to ask, Who is setting the rhythm? The answer depends on who has access to my ears, mind and heart in that moment.
People have different responses when it comes to dealing with the demands of life. Some people hop on the hamster wheel and keep going faster and faster, as if they can outrun the stress or even run away from it. Some people feel so helpless they just stop moving altogether. Others ignore problems hoping they will somehow go away.
I understand each of those reactions — and I have experienced them plenty of times! Somewhere between the hamster wheel and the full stop, there is a perfect pace — a rhythm that's a custom fit for your life and the leg of the race you are running right now. This perfect pace is God's rhythm of grace for your life, His perfect tempo.
Scripture encourages us to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1, NASB). Our Father's desire for all of His daughters is that we go the full distance of our life's race — and not just so we can crawl exhausted across the finish line. He wants us to enjoy the race and come to the end with our heads held high, a smile on our faces and our arms lifted in a double fist-punch! Reaching that moment, dear friend, begins with keeping time with God's perfect tempo for your life.
Dear Heavenly Father, Help me tune into Your voice above all others. I want to move to Your rhythm and at Your pace so I can finish the race You have marked out for me with joy and wholeness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 14:27, "My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don't give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful." (VOICE)
2 Corinthians 12:9, "... and finally He said to me, 'My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.' So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on — I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me." (VOICE)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What tempo is playing the loudest in your ears right now? How would you describe your "movements" in response to that pace?