Rhythms of Grace
By Daphne Delay
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:28-30, Message).
Jesus always knew how to locate people... Even thousands of years ago. His words transcend all time and still apply to us today. It's amazing that over all these centuries, humans repeatedly struggle with the same issues. It seems our trials simply cycle and come back around during every generation. People get tired, worn out, and in some cases, burned out. The Bible doesn't instruct us to not get weary in well-doing for no reason.
What Jesus was offering was relationship, not religion. The differences between the two are interesting. Religion is a belief system or conviction that one follows and adheres to; while relationship is a connection or bond between two parties. A person can have a conviction they follow based on their relationship with another. But in our own strength, it's difficult to live out a belief system when there's no relationship to encourage us.
Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden..." The rules and expectations of religion often weigh a person down. I'm referring to the man-made, self-imposed rules of religion, not the instruction of God's Word. It's the duties of religion (with no grace) that wear people out.
But Jesus said, "I'll show you... Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." Jesus had an unforced relationship with the Father. It wasn't based on duty or rules. He trusted the Father and the Father trusted Him. In the scriptures, we don't really see Jesus stumble (except for His honesty in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked if the cup could be taken from him). Yet even this is a picture of unforced rhythms of grace.
And notice He said, "I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you." Another translation says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." It's interesting that He used the word yoke. Dictionaries define it as an animal harness or restrictive burden. Yet He said His "yoke" (what we assumed to be a restrictive burden) is really very easy and light. Jesus was describing our assignment. His yoke is our assignment... what He's given us to do in life.
This is individual and universal. God's Word is our instruction manual for life. It contains guidelines and instructions to help us maneuver through this world successfully. You would think true freedom would be found under no yoke at all, but the opposite is true. When there's no help, no direction, no vision, we wander into danger and traps. But under the gentle yoke of our Maker, He keeps our foot from stumbling and leads us to lands flowing with milk and honey.
But besides the universal guidelines found in His Word, every believer also has an individual assignment. This yoke is easy and light. If your assignment seems heavy and burdensome, maybe you're in the wrong assignment. It shouldn't be ill-fitting. For example, in marriages husbands and wives have different assignments; what is meant to be a mantle for the man is a yoke to the woman. But too often, the woman either doesn't trust her husband or the husband lightly esteems his assignment as head of house, so the woman picks up the slack and it quickly becomes a heavy yoke -- one God didn't design (or grace) for her.
The yoke of religion can have the same effect. Unforced rhythms of grace only come through a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we yield and depend on Him, that is when we are the strongest. He said, "My grace [My yoke] is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9, paraphrased). When we feel worn out or on the verge of burn out, it's a sure indicator we have either been doing things in our own strength or trying to carry out an assignment God didn't give us. So check yourself: Are you weary and heavy laden? If yes, walk with Jesus and work with Him. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org
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