How many times have you said something like: “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. ” How many times have you felt like the load of family or work were about to collapse your life?
I’ve said that countless times in the past … but not anymore. In recent years, I’ve found a refreshing new gear. I didn’t have to go out and look for it somewhere. I discovered I had it in me all along.
Here are 3 simple ways I’m shifting to more realistic gears for my life:
- Wake up to your pace
Years ago, whenever I felt tired my mind would push my body further by saying “you know you can do more.” Somewhere along the way I bought into the idea that exhaustion is normal, to be expected, even admired in high achievers. It was a weird sort of badge of honor for me.
I’ve now come to see I had an arrogance of capacity.
I wanted to lead and serve others well, beginning with my family and extending to thousands I pastored in our church at that time. And I had this dream to accomplish great things for God. I thought it was a noble thing to regularly feel weary for God’s cause.
And then I’d read passages like this with an ache in my heart:
“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 Msg
For a long time, I was convinced I could handle just about anything. But part of me was asleep. Over time, between the me, I wanted to be and who I sensed others wanted me to be it just became too much.
I couldn’t sustain the grinding pace over multiple decades and it caved in my life on multiple fronts. Because I couldn’t wake up to the drain of my pace, my life did it for me. Trust me. You don’t want that kind of wake up call.
As a young leader, husband and father I felt guilty whenever I rested or relaxed. The greatest compliment I could receive was from someone who saw how hard I was working. I never wanted people to think I was lazy.
Many years later, I saw the value and felt the joy of slowing my pace down at the end of each week and several extended times each year. I got good at both rest and recreation. But I still didn’t want people to know when I was on holiday lest they think I was shirking my responsibilities.
Over the last 5-7 years, I’ve found a different gear. I’ve found a healthy rhythm between rest and work. I even found myself bragging more about my rest than my accomplishments.
- Move in step with creation
When God created the earth, he set in motion a specific pace for it all.
- Daily- The earth rotates completely. God made evening and morning for each day.
- Weekly- The creation story tells us that God had everyone take a day off every week.
- Monthly- The moon revolves around the earth every 30 days.
- Quarterly- The seasons change.
- Annually- The earth completes 365-day revolution around the sun.
Many of the rhythms we see in nature are the very rhythms we need. It’s no wonder most of us respond so well, feel more alive, more rested, from a day at the beach or a walk in the woods.
We are made of the same spirit and materials as the rest of creation. And since we’re made of the same elements, we need the same kinds of turning on and turning off and of inhaling and exhaling.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Gen 1:3-5
Part of the grace of Eden was the pace of Eden.
* Each day begins in the evening with rest/replenishment/recreate.
* Each week began on the Sabbath with rest/replinishment/recreate.
I’ve learned to trust God not only with grace for my life but with the pace of my life. I’m learning to work from my rest- not just rest from my work.
- Practice the pace of Jesus
Jesus was arguably the most productive person on the planet, in terms of what He was able to accomplish in such a short period of time. I think part of his productivity came from his daily, weekly and yearly rhythms.
There are countless times in the gospels, after teaching and healing all day, Jesus would stop and say: “That’s enough. Let’s get in the boat.” Or “I’m heading up into the mountains alone.”
With plenty still left to do Jesus humbly honored his human limitations.
It fascinates me now that I always wanted to model my life after Jesus’ self-sacrifice but felt much less urgent to match my pace after his.
So these days, you’ll find me consistently living at a healthy pace of both rest and work, daily, weekly, and annually. I’m intentional about prioritizing the experiencing of spiritual, emotional, and physical rest and replenishment.
Then from those experiences, I contribute the best of my unique and meaningful purpose to the world. And I’m finding that it’s more fulfilling and fruitful than ever before.
Questions to ponder
- Who are your heroes and what is the pace of their lives?
- How much real recovery time do you give yourself each week, each month? Would your spouse, friends, and co-workers agree with your assessment?
- In the midst of wanting to live like Jesus, are you also modeling your rest and recovery after him?
- Are you regularly replenishing yourself with the peace- giving pace of creation?
- What is one thing you could start doing different today or this week to help you experience more of the grace and pace of Eden?
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