With your whole heart…

The call to live a life of faith can feel like a lot of hard work. To be good, do what is right and swallow our pride takes effort. The kind that, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t always want to make. It’s hard to tithe when the budget’s tight. It’s hard to make time in your day to pray or read the Bible when you never feel like you can sit down. It’s hard to control your tongue when every ounce of your being wants to complain. It’s hard to go against the grain.

In this environment, choosing good sometimes feels like trying to push a big boulder up a hill. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to this struggle when he wrote in Romans 7:18, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

Do you ever feel like Paul?

In my last post I focused on Jesus’ words of comfort for those who follow his way. He said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” He was talking about the kind of rest we long for… freedom from the boulder pushing life.

In Matthew 22:36-40 a teacher of the law; a ‘good’, diligent & righteous man, came to Jesus & asked him, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Jesus, in that simple yet profound statement said, when put to the test, all the laws… all the rules… all our good effort can be measured by this: Love.

Love God. Love others. Simply love.

There is such freedom in those words. Who does not want to be loved, to give love? To spend their days both giving & receiving love? There is no list of rules, there is no checklist or unattainable goodness in this life of faith. There is one request.

With you whole heart, love. With all you do, love. With all you are, love.

Today be set free in your life from the yoke, the labor, of goodness. Instead, freely come to the one who loves you as himself and take up his yoke of love. This is the way of faith.


Rest for your soul

IMG_0883Sometimes I feel totally unqualified for my life. It’s not a new revelation or growing fear. Simply, when I look at the balance sheet of my life, with all that needs to be done and measure it against all that I bring to those tasks, it doesn’t equal out. My resources and talents are simply not enough. At least by my own measure…. I lack.

My talents, my resources, my time is never enough for my ideas, my plans, my insistence on perfection. When I consider my own ability, I don’t see what others see. I don’t see what God sees. All I can see is the lack. The problem is that the scale, by which I measure, is one of my own creation. I am the one saying what is “enough”. Living by that standard, the burden of my life, my way, can get so heavy.

It’s only when I set down my grandiose ideas about life at Jesus’ feet, it’s only then that I realize how unnecessarily heavy they are. In a world of great ideas, glossy photos, self help books & how to manuals it is easy to feel like I have to be enough. That I have to do it all. That it is realistic to expect my life to be storybook picture perfect. Jesus has another way, another standard of measure.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invited us saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

I love this passage for so many reasons. It is one that reminds me that I am not journeying this life alone; that there is one who loves me, has compassion for me and walks with me. Jesus doesn’t simply say, “Here, do it my way. It’s better. Now get on with it.” He does not leave me to figure out how to do the new way on my own. Instead, he says to me who is struggling, “Here, let me help you. Let me show you another way. I will make this easier for you.” He fills me with his spirit, teaches me with his word and gives me new ideas for my life.

He does not look at my life through the lens of my ability or from the perspective of my ideals. He looks upon me with grace love. He does not leave me alone with my burdens. He invites me into a new way. He gives me a new measure. When I look at his version of the balance sheet of my life it is written all over with the red lined edits of grace. That balance sheet doesn’t have me come out in the negative but in the over abundant excess of his grace.

Are you weary? Heavy-burdened? Jesus offers rest to your soul.

For me, this process of lightening my burden means setting aside the ones I’ve put on myself. It means being freed to listen to the gentle teacher who says he will help me understand what my true burden should be. I’ll be writing about that process here. I’m choosing his way. Want to walk this journey with us? ~ A