Ah, summertime! The season of vacations, a more relaxed pace of life, adventures, and warm weather. “Summertime and the livin’ is easy….” Summertime is such a wonderful time of year.
But our society is one in which most Americans take little to no vacation time. The drive to produce creates the sense that I always have to be “productive.” A friend of mine recently sent me an article naming the top ways to actually unplug from work during your vacation. Let’s be honest, we really don’t know how to relax!
And the cost of that inability to let go of stress and our drive to produce is the reason we have one of the highest consumptions of prescription drugs in the world, general dissatisfaction with our work, stress on our relationships, and physical ailments. A recent study says that the average American checks his smartphone on average of 150 times a day. Whew, I’m exhausted just writing that.
This lack of balance in our lives is completely antithetical to spiritual health, peace, and maturity.
Look at our lesson today in Matthew 11:27-30:
The Lord said to his disciples, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The path to balance and peace in our lives runs through the wise direction of our Lord in His wisdom and the wisdom of the saints through the centuries. This focus on “nepsis” or an even keel in life, all has to do with the sense of balance in a world that all too often is out of balance!
First, it all starts with a Confession. Our Lord invites “all who labor and are heavy laden” to come to Him. The first step in this journey to peace and rest starts with admitting you don’t have either. It isn’t enough to complain about your schedule, to complain about your busyness. You have to actually move beyond complaining to confessing your need for help.
Next, realize that peace and rest are a Gift. “I will give you rest.” Go to the Giver of Rest and the Prince of Peace and receive what you need. Stop all this fruitless dependence on outward circumstances to finally be perfect so you will be happy, and go to Him Who made you. He will GIVE you rest.
Of course, you’ll actually have to “take” the Gift, and that leads to the next step in this journey of Peace – Revelation.
The Revelation that His burdens are actually lighter than all those other burdens you are carrying is a huge A’HA moment. The disciplines of a consistent following, learning from, and receiving the wisdom of Christ make for a completely different lifestyle than the “dog eat dog” “gotta climb that corporate ladder” “can’t let the neighbors get ahead of us” mentality that wars against true rest and balance!
If you are going to ever know true rest, true contentment, true peace, it will only be as you trade the burdens you are carrying all by yourself for the “light” burdens of Jesus. They are infinitely better for your soul, your family, your career, your life, than all the fruitless striving in a world intent on eating you alive! Don’t let stubbornness, pride, or mere fear keep you from the rest gently and lovingly offered to you today from the Lord Who longs to lift those heavy burdens you’ve been carrying all by yourself. A life of focused faith is a life of peace and rest regardless of the outward circumstances.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Today, rest. Admitting your life is out of balance is only the start of this rest. Allow the wisdom of the lifestyle of Orthodox Christianity to begin helping you recapture and tame your out-of-balance life. Have the courage to practice the faith so that this peace the Lord gives, this “yoke” that is so much lighter than the heavy burden of a life lived without Christ, can bring you the rest you need to be Orthodox on Purpose.
P.S. Dear Lord, Your servant Moses recorded the truth that after You created the universe You rested! You had him record this for our sake! You made us for balance and the rhythm of work and rest. You blessed this rhythm and You even did this when You walked among us, taking time to rest from Your work of salvation for our sake. Please help me stay attentive to my need for rest and “re-creation” in serving You to become like You! Amen.