Hey Fam!

We are in part 5 of our 5-part series on Family-Together Habits. These are behaviors families can practice to strive for greater intimacy with Jesus. 

The five key habits are: Gospel-centered worship, Gospel-centered service, Gospel-centered community, Gospel-centered gratitude, and Gospel-centered rest.

Today, we are focusing on REST.

I think we can all agree that the Nine Commandments are not only God’s rules, but they are just a good idea. Even if you aren’t a follower of Jesus, it is logical and agreeable to say that these commandments are good for society as a whole: don’t worship other gods, don’t make false idols, don’t use God’s name improperly, honor your parents, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t get jealous. Those Nine Commandments are great.

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Have you ever played Dutch Blitz? In Dutch Blitz, the purpose is to unload all your cards as fast as you can by laying them in ascending numerical order on any players discard piles in the middle. The goal is to see how fast you can empty your hand. I would have named it Solitaire on Steroids.

For many of us, everyday life is a like a game of Dutch Blitz in reverse. In this past-paced game, players are frantically picking up more cards and shoving these cards into their own hands and the hands of the other players. The goal is to make another player be the first to lose when his hand is too full and he spills all his cards. The cards are activities and responsibilities. Most of our hands are loaded and spilling over. It is life on steroids.

Is this Dutch Blitz in reverse life what Jesus intended for us? Frenetically packing more and more activities into our lives? No. In fact, Jesus invites those of us caught in this frenzied game to pause and consider an alternative way to live. In what some have labeled Jesus’ Great Invitation,” Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

Which of these two phrases from Jesus’ invitation best describes your life? “Weary and burdened” or “fits perfectly and…burden…light?” “Weary and burdened” – that’s where a life on steroids leads. To those of us caught in such a game, Jesus offers “rest.” The word “rest” simply means, “wholeness of soul” – a calm sense of purpose and wellness. It is available to those who accept Jesus’ invitation and join Him in the yoke as His apprentice. In that yoke, we rely on His power, we respond to His direction, and together with Him we accomplish His purpose.

As someone has well said, “We can’t follow Jesus at a sprint.” To remain in the yoke next to Jesus means this Dutch Blitz-in-reverse style life on steroids needs to change. We must discard activities. We must stop allowing people to shove activities into our already overflowing hands. We must learn to say, “No” to others and to ourselves.

Why is it so difficult to discard non-essential activities and to say “No” to others who try to shove more activities into our bulging hands? Here are four common excuses I hear myself say:

1. I don’t want to say, “No,” because I like to do this! I do it because I don’t have the wisdom or the discipline to pass on the fun things in order to invest in the important things.

2. I shouldn’t say “No,” because I owe him. I don’t have the courage to speak honestly to people about my limitations or my priorities when they “should” on me with perceived or real guilt trips.

3. If I say, “No,” people will think I am ungrateful, or a lazy deadbeat. I care more about how this person views me than I care about me than what Jesus thinks about my steroid-driven life.

4. If I say, “No,” this won’t get done. I put the pedal to the metal because, like Elijah, I am puffed up to think that I am essential to the activities’ success.

Jesus models for us how we can find more balance in this frantic-paced life. In the yoke beside him, Jesus can teach us simple strategies to get off a steroid-driven life. Here are four that jump from the pages of the Gospels:

1. Ignore the boos of men by listening for the applause of the Father. Jesus said he only took on cards that were pleasing to the Father (John 8:29) We are going to disappoint people. A key to wholeness of soul living is to learn to disappoint the right people.

2. Consult the Father before picking up any card. Jesus said before picking up a card, he got advice from his Father. (“I do nothing without consulting the Father.” (John 8:28) Furthermore, Jesus did not appear to be in any hurry about how long that consultation lasted. We would do well to, like Jesus, drag our feet about picking up another activity in order to give us time to go to our knees for counsel.

3. Jesus shot straight with people carrying cards. Jesus often shared his heart with those who tried to shove a card in his hand. Jesus wasn’t mean-spirited, but he wasn’t Minnesota-nice. He spoke the truth, and so should we. Picking up a responsibility without embracing it with our hearts is compliance, lacks authenticity, and leads to bitterness.

4. Jesus knew why he was here. Jesus didn’t pick up a card (a responsibility) if that card didn’t fit His purpose, regardless of how fun it might be for him or urgent it might be to others.

What do you think?