Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Rhythm of Grace

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work." Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. "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." (Matthew 11:25-30, The Message)
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Sometime back, I was listening to a CD while I was driving. It happened to be a compilation of old Don Francisco tunes, and one in particular caught my attention. The song “Give Your Heart a Home” speaks of our struggle to do things for ourselves and the empty failure that brings. It uses the passage quoted above as Jesus’ voice beckoning us to lay down our own burdens, yoke with Him, and let Him give us true rest and a home. I had been thinking about that song and how Scripture (especially the passage in Matthew) called out to us in our deepest need and want, but I hadn’t been able to bring it all together to the point where I felt like I could write about it … until my pastor, Sam, spoke on it in his sermon.

The call of Jesus in Matthew 11 is not a simple “greeting card” wish for us to come away and find a quick respite in the midst of some momentary difficulty. In fact, the call here is a direct extension of what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes about who heaven was meant for … the lowest of the low among creation. God beckons us to leave behind life spent living without Him and trying to bear a burden we cannot possibly bear. As Francisco’s song said, we spend what we don’t have to buy an emptiness that cannot fulfill. We are lost souls faced with continual disappointment and disillusionment. Our empty hearts cry out for something … anything … that will stave off the pain we feel in the very depths of our being. And in the midst of this, God calls.

Jesus invites us to join with Him and promises a rest from our struggle that we so desperately need. He doesn’t want our religious efforts, hollow as they are. He wants our hearts. He has already paid the price and offers the promise that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. His path is intentionally crooked, as I’ve discussed before, but He offers us something we cannot get elsewhere.

And, taking Him up on his offer, we travel the crooked path not without a companion or a plan. Rather, we travel it yoked to a Divine Brother who leads us and guides us and bears far more of our burden than we can possibly imagine. And as we walk forward, linked with our Master and Savior, we move to the unforced rhythms of Grace.

Our Friend Jesus offers a kind of rest that truly brings new life, a recovered life. We lay our head against His shoulder, and lean on Him, accepting His strength as the substitute for what we cannot do ourselves. And resting on the Rabbi’s shoulder, we hear in the rhythm of grace, His heartbeat keeping time. It isn’t a simple vacation or refreshing getaway, it is the rest of a lifetime. No longer lost souls, our heart has found a permanent home, and our travel along the crooked path lifts and lightens in His presence.

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  1. How long has it been since you experienced a complete, deep rest? Or are you satisfied just catching your breath for a minute and keeping on with the chores at hand?
  2. Have you yoked with our Divine Brother, Jesus? Are you ready to experience the complete refreshment only He can offer?
  3. If you do know Him, are you content to walk with Him under His terms? Or are you frightened at the thought of giving up what you consider “control” and relying on Him completely? Are you ready to hear the rhythm of grace in the Rabbi’s heartbeat?

The Message – Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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