Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It…

Grace and truth. Faith and works. Peace and conflict. Fate and freewill.

We often don’t live well within life’s tensions.

When I was a teenage Christian I got the notion that I wanted to be metaphorically on fire for God until my whole life had been exhausted for God’s glory. It seemed passionate and purposeful. Give all I had until I was fully spent for God’s reign. At times, the world’s unending needs and my poor boundaries have nearly accomplished the burned out portion of that teenage zealous desire. I have felt exhaustion, but I am increasingly convinced it was not for God’s glory.

When asked by poet David Whyte to address the subject of exhaustion, Brother David Steindl-Rast replied, “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

I have come back again and again to that quote for years. Most often it is when I am either feeling like reflecting on vacation or feeling exhausted at a coffee shop near home. It calls upon me to sit with my own heart for further clarity. Does my life feel the welcomed weariness from purposeful engagement? Has my life felt drained not merely from activity, but from a failure or inability to engage my whole heart?

Jesus’ disciples knew what it was to engage fully and to need rest. Both were realities they saw in Jesus’ life and needs they experienced in their own.

Jesus not only called, taught, and lived life with his apprentices. Jesus sent his apprentices in pairs with the authority to proclaim and enact God’s reign in a sin-scarred and unjust world. They were sent in a posture of humility and dependency. There were scant resources for them to trust in on the journey. Matthew’s Gospel says, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.” They were not particularly well outfitted for the trek ahead. They would be dependent upon God’s provision through the hospitality of those they encountered.

They returned after many great spiritual conversations, bold proclamations, and supernatural demonstrations of God’s power driving out demonic evil. Much good work had been done. Nevertheless, surely there were still many in need of deliverance, healing, and salvation. Yet Jesus invites his apprentices to retreat for a time to reflect and rest. This same Jesus the Messiah, often got away for times of solitude and prayer. Wholehearted work and rest both bring glory to God.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work and rest animated wholeheartedly by God’s Presence.

Christopher Mack