August padded onto the calendar on soundless cat paws. Where did summer go? September’s just around the corner and I’m still trying to figure out who vaporized May and June.
I know where summer went. Vacation Bible School. Camp. Clubs. Volunteer endeavors. Ministry. Planning, coordinating, researching and writing. Busy, busy, busy.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
This was supposed to be my “summer off.” To “Be still and know that I am God.” To be led beside still waters. But I’m running on Empty because I’ve been running all summer. Well, not quite. I’m running on fumes because I never stopped running in the first place!
Didn’t Jesus say, “Come to me, all you who weary and burdened, and I will give you rest“? And “Take my yoke upon you … and you will find rest for you souls?” Didn’t he say “my yoke is easy and my burden is light?” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
So why I am dashing around, heaving one Alaskan-sized boulder after another onto my back as if sustaining the law of gravity depends on me?
Short answer: bad memory. I forget that it doesn’t depend on me.
Okay, okay. Yes, we must behave like grown-ups. Bills, families, jobs, responsibilities. But does that mean we have to be chained to them, slaves to them? Run so fast and so hard that we collapse or induce a heart attack?
There’s a certain sense of fulfillment in being busy, especially if you’re busy “serving the Lord.” Don’t we admire those who pour heart and soul into the Lord’s work? Don’t we look up to those who are overworked, under-rested, and up-to-their-eyebrows “in ministry”?
These are all good, but without balance – including attention to our own hearts and souls – the demands of ministry can consume us. Eat away at our joy, peace, and contentment. Sap our strength, stiffen our hearts.
Some of us can get so busy “serving Jesus” that Matthew 11 seems… incongruous. Out of place. Rest feels… irresponsible. Look around the local ministerial association or Bible study group. How many haggard, lined faces can you count? How many fatigue-fogged faces, eyes glazed exhaustion?
How does this square with that easy yoke and light burden?
No wonder we burn out, lose our seasons of summer, our rest for heart, soul, mind and body.
I’m sitting at the kitchen table this morning with a bowl of Special K, my good dog at my feet. I’m replaying the past few months in my head – and sighing. I write:
Was that really necessary? Did I have to chair another committee? Take on another project? Fill up every square on my Day Minder? Respond to every complaint, question, and concern?
I sigh again and write:
Lord, I want more of you. Not more burdens or busyness. I want more of You.
His plans. His priorities. His easy yoke and light burden. I know I must be intentional about slowing down. About pulling away from the busyness and quieting the “internal chatter” so I can hear Him.
It may mean riding bikes with my kids. A walk on the beach. A Puccini aria. A long soak in a hot tub. Hiking in the Cascades. Enjoying a sunset, an orchid, a slice of watermelon. It means being deliberate about setting aside time for renewal and restoration so His heart and mine beat as one. So the rest of the year and those that follow are more holy. And I’m more wholly His.