“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 11:28-30 (The Message)
We live in a fast-paced world that shows no signs of slowing. In fact, there’s every indication that the world around us will continue on this harried pace, leaving us exhausted, frustrated and feeling completely overwhelmed. Many have equated such an existence to spinning on a hamster wheel, or running on empty. Regardless of the metaphor, the reality of such breathless living is two-fold: it is not sustainable and it bears no resemblance to the abundant life promised to us through our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
For a while, we were tempted to believe that balance was the key; everything in moderation. However, achieving a balanced life is a cultural principle not a biblical one. It’s not mentioned by the prophets or outlined in the Beatitudes... and there’s a reason for that. As Keith Hammonds writes, “[Balance] is an unattainable pipe dream… The quest for balance between work and life, as we’ve come to think of it, isn’t just a losing proposition; it’s a hurtful and destructive one.” This is never more evident than in our fruitless efforts of trying to balance the sinful trappings of this world with our desire to live out the Gospel. There is no feasible way to achieve this kind of balance. So the question becomes: If balance is unattainable, then what is the answer?
In his book, The Jesus Life, Stephen W. Smith states, “Many Christians have focused on the teaching of Jesus… at the expense of neglecting the intentional decisions Jesus made about how He would live His one and only life” (emphasis added). Smith goes on to explain that throughout the Book of Luke, we see example after example of Jesus setting a rhythm to His life; one that included times of solitude, followed by time in community where he shared what was gained during His solitude. This was always in conjunction with time spent in ministry. These three components worked together like a finely crafted and tuned machine. Without fail, we see this repeated over and over again. Jesus established a precedent for how we are to go about our lives, accomplishing the tasks at hand. Moments of solitude. Moments of community. Moments of ministry. Always mindful that one area will suffer if they are not all equally yoked. This is a truly attainable balance... a biblical balance. And while I’m sure we could all work on each of the three areas, I’m willing to bet that our collective lack of solitude is, by far, the worst offense. But, it’s also the key to having a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Spend some time taking an honest evaluation of where you are in this fast paced world. Is your quiet time limited to short spurts in the morning or night… or, if you’re like me, whenever you can lock yourself in the bathroom? Try to carve out 5-10 ADDITIONAL minutes to spend with Jesus today. Don’t feel pressure to read your Bible or even pray. (But, by all means, do so if you feel the prompting!) This is about making a conscious decision to get off the hamster wheel and make time for Jesus. If you’re doing this as a family, talk about the importance of having quiet time with Jesus and help your children come up with ways to get away with the Lord. This isn’t a painful challenge… just a little pre-workout conditioning. Baby steps… for now!