Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wind in My Sails

This entire post is from Chris Brauns' book Unpacking Forgiveness, pages 30-31. I took note of it this morning because as I was flipping through the book, I realized that I'd underlined most of this section, so I think it's worth sharing:

"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." Matthew 11:28-30

Just for a moment now, block out all your concerns about whatever fight you may face at hone or at church or in the world. Consider Christ even more deeply. Even as I have reminded you that he is the Wonderful Counselor and Almighty God, notice that when Jesus invites you to come to him, he describes himself as 'gentle and lowly in heart.' Though he is supremely exalted, Christ is not a vindictive taskmaster who would rub your face in your mistakes and beat you down over your failures. Such a combination isn't possible in the Savior of the Bible! he stands ready to help. He is gentle and humble in heart. Why would you not accept his invitation to unload the weight of your burdens?

But wait. Before you accept Jesus' offer to find rest, read the invitation closely. Jesus does not invite worn-out people to take a nap. Nor does he suggest that if we will chant a one-time prayer, refreshment will be granted automatically. No; Jesus says to assume his yoke and learn from him. Jesus invites those who need rest to come work with him.

Jesus' offer of discovering rest by means of a yoke is a paradox. A yoke is a harness used for labor. You might legitimately ask, how in taking on Jesus' equipment would I find rest? The answer is, as we follow Jesus and learn from him, the Holy Spirit graciously operates in our lives. This is how we who are weak can move forward - not in our strength, but in his. This is the kind of thing that Paul pointed to in Philippians 2:12-13 when he said, 'Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." The reason Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling is that when they do, God will graciously work in and through them. God works in and through us as we cooperate with his gracious work in our lives.

A sailing illustration might help make this point. Suppose you are in a boat and you have to travel an incredible distance. And to further complicate things, you don't even know there is such a thing as sailing.

What would you do? You would try and propel the boat in all kinds of futile ways. You might lie on your stomach and paddle over the side. If you were a little more creative, you might use a stick as an oar and row in circles. But soon you would be worn-out and frustrated.

But then imagine that someone stepped onto your boat and said, 'I see that you are exhausted. How about I teach you how to get somewhere?' He would then show you how to raise a sail and catch the wine.

You get the picture. Sailing is still hard work. There is a reason that sailors like Popeye have big forearms. But it is not futile hard work. Hoist a sail into the breeze, and soon you are gliding forward in a strength that is beyond yourself.

No comments: