Friday, April 3, 2015

Exhaustion & New Life

Most days start out roughly the same – the alarm goes off for my husband, who has to get up and out before the rest of us, and I lay there, trying to get my internal gears running, while my body laments, “…but I’m still so tired.”

I know this is just a season – a season of parenthood for which we planned, prayed, and rejoiced. But just because something is a blessing, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t also very, very hard. And very tiring.

Perhaps you’re in your own hard season of life right now. Maybe there are more people demanding more from you than you know how to handle – the boss, the spouse, the parents, the children. You give and give and give until you feel like you just might give out under the tremendous pressure to be everyone’s everything with nothing left for yourself.

Or maybe it feels just the opposite is true – the house is empty except for the nattering from the television you keep on to keep you company. No one calls, no one writes, no one seems to remember that you are alive. One seemingly empty day blends into the other, with only a bit of sleep between to tell the difference. Life seems flat, dull, and so very tired.

This life is very, very hard sometimes. There’s brokenness everywhere we look, even within ourselves.

There are those out there who say that if you believe in Jesus, your life will not be so hard. You will be rewarded with prosperity, happiness, and good hair days if you say the right prayer to invite Jesus into your heart. They treat Jesus like a diet pill – you don’t have to change anything about your life to be a disciple. But that’s just not true.

God knows life is hard. God may not have intended it that way, since God created us for loving relationship with God’s self and plunked us down in a beautiful garden, where all we had to do was reach out our hands to eat sweet, perfect fruit until our appetites were content. But we were not content with that…

A clergy colleague of mine made the great point in one of his sermons that we all struggle with telling ourselves “No!” Maybe we’re very disciplined when it comes to exercise or we’re a model employee, but there’s usually at least one place in our lives where we struggle with our appetites. That’s where Adam and Eve got into trouble with the forbidden fruit and that’s the same place many of us find ourselves, too.

So where have your appetites led you? I confess that I have to work hard to rein in my physical appetite for food. It’s easy for me to eat well beyond the point of contentment because the taste or crunch or sweetness makes me feel happy. And I know many folks who struggle with things much harder and darker. Our appetites can rule over us if we are not careful, exhausting our own resources and drawing us away from God.

As we read in Isaiah, “All of you who are thirsty, come to the water! Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat! Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk! Why spend money for what isn’t food, and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good; enjoy the richest of feasts. Listen and come to me; listen, and you will live” (55:1-3).

God offers us water bubbling up within us such that we will never be thirsty and will have eternal life (John 4). God offers us a sumptuous feast for our endless hunger and we don’t have to pay a penny.

And read the Isaiah text closely – the new life God offers isn’t necessarily full of fancy clothes or new cars (i.e. “what doesn’t satisfy”). Instead, God asks us to listen, so that we may live. Listen to the Word of God, who came into creation to teach and to heal and to embody God’s love as Jesus Christ.

When we’re so very tired, when we’ve exhausted our own strength, it’s easy to succumb to our appetites, to make bad decisions, and to suppose that this is all that life is. But life is so much more. If you need some newness in your life, get yourself to worship this Easter Sunday! We’ll be worshiping the risen Savior at 11am and 5pm and there’s always room for you.

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