Do you ever fly around on turbo speed, rushing from one activity to another but still wondering how you are ever going to get all those things on your 'to do' list finished in the space of the day? Do 24 hours seem impossibly short, especially when you are supposed to use some of those hours for sleep?!
If so, how does it make you feel when you read Jesus' invitation in Matthew 11: ''Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I first wrote about these verses, and our tendency towards busyness, back in February. I've said before that life as a working mum at times necessitates me doing that mad scramble from one unrelated thing to another. And so, whenever I've allowed myself to get overly frazzled, I can read the above verses and think: 'Pah! Jesus obviously never had young children and tried to work at the same time!'
Awful reaction, right? But I know I'm not the only one. Our society runs at breakneck speed all the time, and most of us struggle to keep up. Church leaders bemoan how they can't get enough volunteers or feel they can't expect their members to attend more meetings because they are all so busy – and that's just what life is like in the 21st century.
But should it be? Is there anything we can learn that will help us navigate the muddy waters a little more clearly?
I love how The Message puts the Matthew passage:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with 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."
"Learn the unforced rhythms of grace... Learn to live freely and lightly..." My heart responds to those phrases because I long for them. As I mentioned in my last article, I can be prone to worry. Just this week, even though I've been practicing what I will be sharing below, I had a moment in which everything imploded and I literally felt panic rising up through my body. After a little melt down (I'm only human after all!), I did remember what God has been teaching me in recent months.
The way he has been inviting me to learn about the rhythms of grace is through utilising a very simple prayer: 'God please order my day'. It was last year that I first heard this phrase when a member of our small group shared that she prays it every morning. A couple of us were inspired to start doing the same thing, and I did for quite a few weeks. But time went by, and it took a reminder during a discussion, and reading about something similar in a book, for me to realise that I had stopped doing it.
This week, I've picked up the habit again and this time I've been praying with my kids on the way to school, that he would order each of our days. I've been thanking him for the breath that he has given me every morning (yes even on those days when I'd rather stay in bed), and have asked him to show me how to pace myself.
I've written about the 'one thing' concept before, and about being aware of, and open to, the unexpected that God might put in your way today. But just this week I've read someone else's perspective on that 'one thing' and it struck me all over again: we CAN live in step with God whatever we are doing and wherever we are. We CAN ask him what that one next thing is, prioritise that and leave the rest of our 'to do' lists alone for now, trusting that the most important things will be accomplished.
If we ask God to order our day, there may well be things that we thought were important that he asks us to let go of. That can be really difficult – especially if we get our sense of worth from doing those things. But have you ever thought that by gripping onto some of those activities you might actually be stopping someone else from stepping into the role God has for them – and may therefore be stealing their blessing from them? It can be an alien concept, but I actually think that as we learn to listen to God's prompting on how to order our day, we may well find our burdens get lighter, as he gently points out all the things we have been carrying that he never asked us to. So why not give it a go?