You know the feeling: You get to the end of a frenzied day, your hair supposedly in a pony tail but actually branching out in 26 different directions, coffee staining the front of the tee shirt you put on to wear to the gym (that you never made it to), hamburger defrosting in the microwave because you forgot to take anything out (again!) and that stupid (never ending, never completed) list on your refrigerator (which you forgot to take with you when you went flying out the door 10 hours ago) screaming at you, in no uncertain terms, about what a failure you are. Again.
How do you respond at the end of an exhausting day like that? Some of us just throw in the towel and dig out the chocolate chips. I totally get that. I think that’s why recliners were invented. Feet up…chocolate in? Good, now I can try to drown out the incessant badgering of that list. And although putting my feet up and savoring a piece of chocolate (or two) may be enjoyable for a few moments, it never really silences the list, at least not for very long. Recliners and chips may earn you 25 minutes of rest or enjoyment but it won’t be long before that list starts harping again and now it’s added a new refrain about dieting and getting to the gym for real tomorrow (and not just into your sport bra). Where’d that chocolate get to?
Others of us will respond by doubling down on the list-making with planning and determination. We make new rules about how we’re going to get up even earlier, set a double alarm, pack lunches tonight before an early bedtime, put the list in our purse right now, plan out our prayer time so we’re sure we’ve got all our God-bases covered. We will lay out everyone’s nicely ironed clothes now so that the morning will be a beautiful interlude to the peace and tranquility that will mark our whole day as we stroll joyously through this garden paradise. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But while that level of organization might work for a while (never really worked for me for more that a day)…we always run into what I call the “Sin-Cursed World Syndrome” (SCWS).
What’s the Sin-Cursed World Syndrome (SCWS) you ask? It’s the chaos that first entered the world when Adam and Eve decided that they wanted to know for themselves, by experience, what evil was. It was spoken as discipline by the One who loves when He said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…” (Gen 3:17-18). It is the inevitable futility of our trying to tame our lives and the lives of the people around us by our own efforts and inevitable list-making. It is the futile effort to control the uncontrollable. It’s children vomiting in their beds at 3 a.m., dead car batteries because when you (wisely) put the backpacks in last night you (unwisely) left the inside light on; it’s 11 year old girls crying because their friend didn’t text them about what color they’re wearing today, 8 year old boys crying because they can’t find Optimus Prime. It’s homework lost and days early periods (or late periods), it’s cell phones dropped in the toilet and an enormous zit in the middle of your chin. It’s planting a beautiful crop of wheat and getting poison oak instead. “Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.”
The point of what I’m going to be saying to you over the next couple of weeks is simply this: Your To-Do List has made promises it can’t keep. It has promised you peace and relaxation and self-approval but instead it delivers nothing but frustration, exhaustion and self-condemnation.
It was to those who were working hard to do all they could do to do all they could do that Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” True rest doesn’t come from time at the beach or in a recliner or out of a bag of Ghirardelli’s chocolate chips. Neither does it come from well-ordered, well-mannered, well-manicured lives, children or lawns. True rest comes from Christ alone…and it’s to Him we will look. Think about it…what would your life look like if it were infused with an other-worldly rest of soul?
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