November 1 Reflections

One of the spiritual growth opportunities that I and others are and have participated in is FaithWalking.  In FW time is spent looking into your past and how you responded or reacted to experiences. My shame, not thinking I was enough, always led me to work hard and be busy so people would think I am wonderful and like me. There was one point in ministry where it had been nearly three months since I had taken a day off and was applauded by leadership for working hard. I truly thought if I worked hard everyone would think I was wonderful. One day someone complained to the leadership of the church I was serving that he did not believe I was working hard enough. At that point I was easily putting in 60-70 hours a week. It sent me into a tailspin because this was the first time someone did not like my work because I was not working hard enough. That vow did not work any longer.

What I needed to do was write a positive vow to replace an old vow that was outdated and quite frankly not that healthy. Through prayer, discernment, and solitude the new vow that really does direct my life now is this: I will rest in Jesus, trusting who he says I am, while working wholeheartedly for him. The motto for me is “don’t work harder, rest deeper.” Outwardly at times there might not seem to be much of a change, but inwardly it is all different. Living for an audience of one and resting in him is so different than living for the applause of hundreds of people I might not even like. The words of Jesus took on such a powerful impact in this time, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) This is not necessarily the absence of activity; it is more about an inward peace of knowing that I am enough as I am. I am loved by Jesus…I am a follower of Jesus…I belong to Jesus…I am resting in Jesus.

Jesus spoke these words amid a religious system that taught you had to follow a myriad (countless or extremely great number) of rules to maybe be accepted by God. It would lead people to be crazy tired trying to follow all the minute rules. Then maybe God would love and accept you. Maybe. Jesus came not only to fight against this system; he destroyed it on the cross. It is finished. Nothing you can do to add to it. People were tired trying to follow all the burdens of following minute rules. Jesus said if you are tired of this come to me. I loved you first, you do not have to earn it. I will give you rest from all this frantic running around trying to look good and earn my love. Get rid of religion. I offer you a relationship of grace, mercy, love. You cannot earn it. It is gift. That message of Good News was like a refreshing drink in the desert of self-righteousness. We are going to think about this on Sunday. Some passages to sink into: Matthew 11:25-30; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 14:25-27.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn