After a bit of a whirlwind Christmas season, I had an Epiphany! True satisfaction in life is found in striving… but this “striving” is “Let us therefore strive to enter his rest…”(Hebrews 4:11).
Striving and resting seem polar opposites. Eugene Peterson in the Message cites Jesus as saying “Come to 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).
When we begin to understand the freedom from worldly burdens that Jesus invites us to experience, we should be incentivised to strive.
You sometimes hear of people taking to something “like a duck to water” but I don’t think I have ever learned anything of value without effort. I have picked up bad habits with ease, but value comes at a price! If I am going to learn the “unforced rhythms of grace”, I will need to unlearn the forced rhythms which have become natural to me! I love to learn things. I relish reading and learning. Even though it takes efforts I enjoy it. However, unlearning is a difficult process! Yet if I don’t strive to eliminate the unproductive ways I leave no room in my life for the new Kingdom oriented ways.
I am about the fastest ‘one finger’ typers I know. I have tried to learn to type properly but I get frustrated because I can type so much faster ‘my way’ than Mavis Beacon’s way. I know, intellectually, that if I stick at it the final outcome will likely be a faster process but my short term need to accomplish tasks causes me to revert to my trusted one finger. I excuse myself with the old saw about “old dogs and new tricks”.
This is not a vitally important element of my life, but it is too easily applicable to spiritual areas of my life. It takes so much effort to change (repent) and truly follow Jesus in simple unforced rhythms. I need to become like a child (I think Jesus said that!) and learn as I did when I was child and began to walk and talk and care for myself and others. This slows me down and is initially filled with effort. The payoff promised makes any struggle pale in comparison! Yet like my typing skills I have learned coping skills. Coping is so much less than Kingdom living, but I settle!
Learning these unforced rhythms makes me think of eating soup with my other hand. It is not a skill that comes naturally to me. It takes concentration, patience, and good humour. I will undoubtedly make a mess of it! In the end, though, I can get it!
I can live a contented life without ever eating soup with my ‘wrong hand’ but I can apply the image and as the writer of Hebrews says, “strive to enter his rest”.
2020 appears to be a year of change for Street Hope. We have a class of 6 of us who will be taking a 10 week course on evangelism. I believe this will mark a new phase for the ministry when people who have been in our orbit for some time are equipped to make a greater impact on our community. After that we will be offering a Finding Freedom workshop. We will also be preparing Threshold House for its next purpose as home for our Christian Community. I am going to be letting some things go in order to concentrate on these things and I am seeking prayer and counsel as I undertake this. It is an exciting time and a time, above all, when I need to strive to be in his rest, yoked with him in this labour.