October 28, 2010

To Live is Christ — sometimes bone-tired

Words of encouragement are wasted on the strong, courageous and successful people who are prosperous and without fear. If Joshua felt like that, the Lord would not have wasted these words on him.
Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7–9)
God says things like this in the Bible because He knows His people. He knows that I often feel weak and fearful. I wonder if I am going to be successful in what I do for Him. I need words like this because my way often seems thwarted by adversity and difficulties that weigh me down and make me feel like quitting.

The New Testament has more verses that speak to the heavy-hearted and to those who struggle or are simply tired. This one comes after a passage about death and resurrection. 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
In context, perhaps the original readers were facing death. That was not unusual for many of the early Christians. God is telling them to persevere in their service to Him. Their reward may not come in this life, but it would come.

I need to hear that too. I did several things this week that were not my choice, but tasks that God put on my to-do list. A few of them brought grumbling until I remembered that these were for Jesus. Even so, I feel very tired and sometimes like I am spinning my wheels.

Another verse comes to mind. This one is for me today as well. In this passage, Paul is talking about the futility of living for my sinful nature. Instead, I need to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for good reason. He ends his exhortation to godliness and godly service with this:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9)
If doing good was easy, God would not have put this verse in the Bible. Doing good can make eight hours of sleep seem like not enough. Being weary can make me wonder if what I do is worth it. But God says it is.

Jesus even said that anyone who is weary and heavy-laden can come to Him. He worded it like this:

Come to Me, all you 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. (Matthew 11:28–30)
At first this seems to suggest that hard work and serving God are incompatible, that if my load is too heavy, I’m trying to carry it myself. While that can be true, I notice that He said “rest for your souls” not “rest for your tired bodies.” This word “souls” is about the animating force of life, not the external muscles that get weary from being animated! His burden may be light but carrying it can make a body tired.

Inside me is that satisfaction of knowing I’m doing what God wants me to do. Closer to the outside are some weary muscles, strained eyes, and an aching back. Jesus promises many things, all of them good, but I am still looking for that verse that promises a good back rub at the end of a busy day. 

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