A friend and his wife, now in their early nineties and married for sixty-six years, wrote their family history for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. The final chapter, “A Letter from Mom and Dad,” contains important life-lessons they’ve learned. One caused me to pause and take inventory of my own life: “If you find that Christianity exhausts you, draining you of your energy, then you are practicing religion rather than enjoying a relationship with Jesus Christ. Your walk with the Lord will not make you weary; it will invigorate you, restore your strength, and energize your life” (Matt. 11:28–29).
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’s invitation in this passage begins, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? . . . Walk with me and work with me. . . . Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (The Message).
When I think that serving God is all up to me, I’ve begun working for Him instead of walking with Him. There is a vital difference. If I’m not walking with Christ, my spirit becomes dry and brittle. People are annoyances, not fellow humans created in God’s image. Nothing seems right.
When I sense that I’m practicing religion instead of enjoying a relationship with Jesus, it’s time to lay the burden down and walk with Him in His “unforced rhythms of grace.”
Lord Jesus, I come to You today to exchange my frenzied work for Your pathway of grace.
Jesus wants us to walk with Him.
How could Jesus offer rest and relief to His followers while knowing the road ahead was steep and difficult? (see Matt: 10:17–24, 34–36). A careful reading of Matthew’s gospel answers such questions. In His day, Jesus was a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t like the self-righteous teachers who had a moral principle for every problem. He was a giver. When He sent His disciples out to announce the good news of His coming, He gave them the ability to do life-giving miracles to show their credibility (10:1). Imagine the exhilaration they must have felt at the end of a hard day. They were discovering for themselves what it meant to reach out to sick, oppressed, and troubled people by the Spirit Jesus gave them, rather than by the strain and monotony of religious duty.
Now the offer is ours to accept. Our Lord invites us to come to Him and discover His “unforced rhythms of grace” and rest. The promise is for the joy of what He can do in us and in the lives of those He inspires us to love and serve.