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Are You Spiritually Spent
Pull The Plug Of Our Spiritual To-Do List
Every time Lenten season rolls around, the devoted dig deep into their spiritual To-Do list. They immediately think about what they should give up—chocolate, coffee, alcohol… believe me, the list goes on. There even is a group of Jewish artists in search of a creative way to slow down our electronically charged lives. The challenge calls everyone to take a digital detox for the 2012 National Day of Unplugging from sundown March 23 to sundown March 24.
So here we are knee-deep in Lent, promising to give up this or practice that, to be better at this and quit doing that. Really?
You see, the Gospel or Good News doesn’t revolve around what “you do,” but centers on what “Jesus did.” The apostle Paul, a once-driven disciple of doing, piles up verse after verse about what God has done in Christ. In Ephesians 1:7, he writes about the Son of God who came to break the stranglehold of sin and death in the world and in our lives. In a contemporary translation this verse says, “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!”[i]
So shall we just sit this Lenten season out and passively wait for some mystical experience to transform us? Paul would be the first to say, “Absolutely not!”[ii] Though God is not dependent on our doings, He has gladly chosen to use us along with our spiritual activities to transform us. God isn’t in the habit of coercing us, but inviting us to draw near and be changed by Him. The story of the people of God is telling. Although Israel was instructed to obey God’s command to “be holy, for I am holy,”[iii] at the end of the week the only thing left for them to do was to relax. God said, “But on the seventh day you shall rest.”[iv] The meaning behind the Sabbath was simple: Catch your breath. Call for a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge your life.
Somehow this God-given command got lost in translation. Today it’s difficult, or rather ironic, to imagine rest as a spiritual discipline. In fact, it happens to be one of the most life-transforming disciplines passed down to us way back when. Sadly, the Sabbath rest has faded from the modern Christian consciousness. The idea of spiritually unplugging during Lent, or every seventh day for that matter, now feels tragically close to impossible. Who can afford to take the time off? We need eight days a week to do what we have to do to get things done. Six days just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Maybe this Lent, we could pull the plug of our spiritual To-Do list and reboot our lives according to the things that God has done for us. Let’s stop debating, procrastinating or beating ourselves over how we ought to observe this season. Let’s focus upon the life of His Son and how He came to set us free. Are you spiritually spent, exhausted, or even burned out over the religious lists of do’s and don’ts? Let’s recognize the value of taking the time off, from sundown to sundown, by drawing near to the One who promised, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”[v]
Lighten your load this Lenten season. Remember what God has done for you by finding rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
[i] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1993).
[ii] Romans 7:8.
[iii] Leviticus 11:45.
[iv] Exodus 34:21.
[v] Matthew 11:28.