“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
Why do we drive ourselves to the point of exhaustion? Is it because we think we have something to prove? Are we constantly driven by our not-enough-ness? Do we believe in our core that God can’t be trusted? That He doesn’t care about the nuances of our lives?
I don’t know a responsible person who hasn’t hit a wall of burnout at some point in their lives. I have. I’m sure you have as well. Maybe you’re there now. Know that there’s no condemnation here. No obligation either; just a beautiful invitation to more deeply know God’s ways for you. He will never ask you to grind your gears to the point of exhaustion. In fact, He commands regular rhythms of rest because He knows how unnatural it is for us to cease our striving and to remember afresh that He is God.
It’s not enough to cut a few things out of our calendar. It’s not enough to get away for the weekend. Although both of these are steps in the right direction.
What we need is a personal inventory of what got us here in the first place. Is it possible we deeply believe that more rests on our shoulders than on God’s? This is great place to start. Changing our minds about this one fact could potentially upend our busyness and establish us in a healthy, life-giving sustainable rhythm of life. Here’s what’s true: God cares. He carries us. He covers us. And He can do more with a surrendered soul than He can with a striving one. Every gift comes from Him. Every idea originates from Him. He’s never in a hurry, never overworked, always on time, and He invites us to trust Him with every detail of our lives. We lose our way when we lose sight of Him.
Read this powerful passage:
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-17
Jesus holds all things together and that includes you.
Recently on Middays, I talked with author and lawyer Justin Whitmel Earley about his book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. Justin hit a massive wall of burnout that resulted in anxiety and panic attacks in the middle of the night. Doctors prescribed sleeping pills, which only made matters worse for him. Finally, with the help of his wife and friends, Justin established some daily and weekly practices that not only changed his life they bore fruit beyond his wildest dreams.
As Justin shared, these aren’t difficult things to do yet each of them reflects a gesture of humility, trust, and dependence. God invites us to meaningful work, deep rest, rich fellowship, and intimate community. These things reflect His character and our lives are most settled when we live in rhythm with His ways.
Here are Justin’s daily and weekly practices:
- Kneeling prayer at morning, midday, and bedtime
- One meal with others
- One hour with phone off
- Scripture before phone
- One hour conversation with friend
- Curate media to four hours
- Fast from something for 24 hours
“The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. We yearn for the freedom and peace of the gospel, but remain addicted to our technology, shackled by our screens, and exhausted by our routines.”
The culture has it wrong. Straining and striving, comparing and despairing, is not a sustainable way to live. What if you started and ended your day on your knees? What if you learned to really taste your food and enjoy your loved ones? If your soul is stressed, in need of rest, determine today to live differently. Consider a few simple daily and weekly practices that will put your life and perspective back in their rightful place: wholly submitted to and trusting in the Lord who cares for you.Less stress, more rest