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Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:3 (NIV)
You might have heard it said that stressed spelled backward is desserts. And I hate to admit it, but oftentimes when I’m stressed, desserts make me feel a little bit better. How do you make yourself feel better when you are stressed? Does binge-watching your favorite TV show help? A good meal? A nap? While these things aren’t bad, they certainly aren’t a cure-all either. When we are dealing with stress in our work lives or personal lives, we all have different ways of coping.
Have you ever felt like you’re just working for the weekend? And then when the weekend comes, it goes by far too quickly, and then you do it all over again? It’s a pattern of exhaustion. You never really feel like you can soak up enough rest before being back at it again the next week.
I’m learning to find pockets of rest in each day. Not just when the workday ends, but just moments throughout the day to stop and rest in the love of Jesus. That might look like getting up from your desk chair and taking a walk and praying. It might mean starting and ending your day in Scripture. It could be reading a devotional on your lunch break or praying out loud on the car ride to work. It might not seem like much, but it’s working diligently at finding daily rhythms to refocus our thoughts on Jesus.
It sounds a little counterintuitive, but we have to work diligently at rest, especially in our fast-paced culture. We have to set aside those times to rest and rest well. There was a reason that God modeled a Sabbath day in Genesis 2:3. He knew we would need to learn to do the same.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. - Genesis 2:15 (NIV)
I was an elementary school teacher for four years before going into full-time ministry. The subject I miss teaching the most? Latin. Latin feels like a lost secret. It’s a fun puzzle because half of our English words come from Latin. So while you learn new Latin words, you are really better understanding your own English language and where those words come from.
The word procrastinate comes from the Latin word procrastino, which means to put off until the next day. The Latin root pro means “for,” and cras in Latin means “tomorrow.” So put that together, and it means when you procrastinate on a task, you simply decide that it’s “for tomorrow,” or the next day… or the day after that.
What things are you procrastinating on in your life? Do you have a closet that needs reorganizing? A work project that seems daunting? Why do we like to put off these things? Is it because we are lazy? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s a defense mechanism saving us from our anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt, or fear.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to get started or get moving. Hard work is exactly what it sounds like—hard work. We don’t always have the energy or stamina to push through on our own strength. And that’s okay.
God created us to do work, and work is good for us. However, it is important to remember our identity does not come from the work we do. Our identity comes from being sons and daughters of Christ. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (ESV). We can’t get this backward. We must know that we are loved simply for being God’s creation. We don’t have to work for it.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
Last summer I got married, bought my first house, started a new job, and got a puppy. You could say it was a lot of change at once. Good change, but change nonetheless, and change can be hard.
My buddy Gordon likes to say, “Change is here to stay.”
I think COVID-19 affected everyone’s jobs in some way. Healthcare workers, teachers, business owners, office workers, the list goes on. Most of these changes haven’t been fun. It’s been difficult for many people who have lost jobs, been forced to work remotely, or switched positions. Those in leadership are having to make hard decisions, and everything just keeps changing.
As we adapt to each new change thrown our way, I can’t help but think of the classic Friends episode where Ross, Rachel, and Chandler carry a couch up a tight stairwell. Each new swerve of plans makes me think of Ross yelling, “PIVOT!” I think 2020 feels a little bit like carrying a heavy couch up a tight curved staircase.
These may be “unprecedented times” that our country has not seen, but change and difficult times have been around forever. The only thing that we can count on to stay the same is Jesus. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV)
When we can’t keep up with the constant changes around us, remember Jesus. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Jesus disappointed people. He didn’t live up to their expectations. Jesus disappointed the disciples, the religious leaders, and the crowds. In Mark 1, Jesus woke up early in the morning after a night of healing many, to go off to a solitary place and pray. When His disciples finally found Him, they exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you!”
When Jesus came, He could have met all the expectations of what the people wanted. He could have healed more people or gone more places. However, He wasn’t trying to meet human expectations. Instead, He was relying on the Father to show Him the needs to meet. He found solitude to pray, and He trusted the Lord’s direction.
There are so many things on our plates right now. There are emails to answer, errands to run, sinks full of dishes, and friends who need us. It seems impossible to get it all done in a day while also trying to sort out all the emotions, difficulties, and challenges that 2020 has given us.
This season has been difficult for many, and it can be overwhelming to meet the expectations of the world around us. In Exodus 16, God rained bread down from Heaven and instructed His people to go out each day and gather just enough food for that day, no more than that. He wanted to see their daily reliance on His provision. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6), Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread.”
Our daily “bread” might look different in each season, but He always gives us what we need. Take each day one day at a time, and anything that can’t be done today, let it be.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. - Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
Do you remember your first phone? Mine was a birthday present, and it was my very own cordless phone to keep in MY room. But it was a landline, which meant it wasn’t entirely my own phone or number, and I could get kicked off by my mom or the Internet at any time. Not too long afterward, I got my first cell phone—a blue flip phone, where you could pull out the antenna about a foot and download your own ringtones. I’m a millennial, but I still value a good old fashioned phone call.
Today we are jumping into the topic of your calling. See what I did there? When you think of calling, you might think of your job, your vocation. Our English word “vocation” comes from the Latin verb voco, meaning “I call.” Which is why your vocation is sometimes more than just a job, it’s your calling. If you love your occupation, you might feel like you were called to be in that role. Others may feel frustrated that their job just feels like a job.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, teacher, nurse, or accountant, you have a calling from the Lord. You can do ministry working at a church or at a bank. You can live out the fullness of your calling wherever you are. God gave you unique gifts and talents that you can bring to the Kingdom.
Romans 12:6 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (NIV)