Holy Week Writer’s Block

Holy Week is here, in fact, it is nearly half over. And I’ve had writer’s block…

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Holy week is always difficult for me. It requires slowing down, careful reflection, and walking a road I’d rather not travel. One of sadness. One of suffering. I’d rather distract myself with work or important things like Facebook and Twitter. However, busyness is not conducive to the lessons found in Holy Week. Only by slowing down can we join in the walk towards Calvary. Believe me, this is a not a walk I enjoy! But it is necessary. I’d love to keep my life nice and loud, get lost in the distraction of the noise, and then join in the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday. But that leaves the story incomplete and void of its true meaning. I must slow down in order to gather at the table where Jesus offered His body and blood as a new covenant with God the Father. I must slow down in order to grasp the reality of the cross on Good Friday and I must slow down to grieve on Holy Saturday. I can’t hear God’s voice speak words of life and love through all of the noise. The celebration of Easter Sunday isn’t nearly as meaningful without the sorrow of Friday and Saturday. To truly join in the celebration, I must also join in the suffering and understand Jesus’ sacrifice. We simply can’t have one without the other. So it’s time to slow down, be quiet, eliminate distractions, listen, and observe. Holy week writer’s block may be a good thing after all…

Busyness is not a Badge of Honor

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I’ve been working too hard and I’ve been too busy lately. In fact, I’ve been so overextended that I’ve fallen asleep on the couch after work the last two days in a row. Overextending ourselves is so easy to do. Saying no to people is difficult and saying yes feels so good. Busyness has got to be one of the biggest things hindering a healthy relationship with God. When I’m busy, my relationship with God is the first thing that suffers. I don’t “have time” for Him. Think about how ridiculous that is. In my busyness, I make the decision that my trivial responsibilities are more important than spending quality time with my Maker and my Creator, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Friends and family are the second thing to suffer. And my personal health isn’t far behind.

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So if it is so bad for us, why is it so easy, so tempting, to become so busy? Because I don’t think I’m alone. I see it in the students I work with as well. I see students staying up until the wee hours of the morning because they’ve taken on too many hard classes that have too much assigned homework and they can’t bear the thought of earning less than an A. I’ve seen students refuse to give up any of the activities they are involved with even though they are pulled so hard in so many different directions that they are about to be torn to pieces. I’ve heard the rationale that if students aren’t earning all As and in all the activities they can handle then they won’t get into the college of their choosing. And I’ve heard that busyness is a good thing because it keeps students out of trouble. What lies! And yet these lies seem to have completely permeated our culture and so busyness has become the norm, a badge of honor even. Rest and relaxation seem to be viewed as lazy.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that anyone should settle for mediocrity or that we should be lazy slobs. I’m suggesting that we are human beings not human doings. When God created the world He placed rhythms into the entirety of nature. Why would we be any different? Beyond that, God demonstrated the life He designed for us to live, one of both work and rest. First He worked, then He rested. He even included the  command to rest in the 10 commandments! When Moses was becoming overwhelmed at the requests of the people, God told Him that the amount of work was not good for him and that He needed to delegate some of the work to others. He told Moses to rest! Jesus modeled this for us as well. It is difficult to read the passages where Jesus tells people no, and we don’t often like to read them, but He did not heal everyone. He took time to pray. He took time to sleep.

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So why are we so obsessed with being busy? Maybe it really comes down to longing for the approval of others and fearing rejection or disappointment if we say no. Maybe we don’t know how to be bored anymore. Or maybe it’s an identity issue. If you’ve read my blog before you know I believe that most things are. Maybe we continue to try to define ourselves through what we DO instead of by who we ARE and most importantly by WHOSE we are. We forget who created us and who loves us. And we forget that God’s love for us is what gives us value and worth and identity, not the things that we do. Here’s the irony, remember those two nights I fell asleep after work? My plan for both evenings was to do more work! I guess God had different plans. “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” And He did. And the world kept turning, and His love for me stayed steadfast, even though I rested instead of worked. May you also find a rhythm to life that includes resting in the arms of Jesus.

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Weariness

Weary: 1. exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness.   2. Having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted.

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Recently, I’ve felt weary.  I’ve simply felt worn down, spread thin, and like I’m running on fumes. The long winter and delay of spring hasn’t helped either! Have you ever felt this way?

I grow weary when I stop counting on and communicating with God and rely only on my own power and strength.  I disconnect from Jesus for a variety of reasons including busyness, pride, stubbornness, arrogance, hurt, or just laziness. Regardless of the reason, the result is almost always the same. I end up feeling weary. And it’s no wonder. My body and mind are weak and have limits. God’s power and strength is without limits. Look at what Isaiah 40:28-31 says,

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

But the truth behind the times I feel weary, is that I lose sight of my identity. I forget that I am a precious child of God. I forget that my purpose is to please Him, not everyone else. I forget that my worth is found in His love for me and not in my own accomplishment. And that is when I end up stumbling, that is when I fall.

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When I remember I’m a beloved child of God, I more easily rely on Him. There is little hope to be found in my own talents and abilities, but there is much hope in the limitless strength of the Lord. I don’t know what it would feel like to soar on the back of an eagle, but it sounds pretty exhilarating! I dream of being able to go on a run and not return exhausted! And that’s the strength and power we  have access to when we stay connected to our identity in Christ as God’s beloved!