“Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: ‘Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.’
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. ‘The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.
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 11:25-30 (MSG)
In Matthew 11, Jesus remembered the cities that had rejected His miracles and offer for repentance. Although some people had repented, many religious people of that day just turned and walked away from the message. In remembering the moments that people had turned away, Jesus denounced the cities that had rejected Him. In the midst of this discourse, something began to shift. Jesus turned His attention heavenward in recognition and thanksgiving that God is the one who works and saves. As Jesus’ attention was refocused on the people before Him, He had a significant invitation to give them. If people were weary with burdens and religion had left them feeling empty, Jesus invited people to come and receive His gift of salvation. Wrapped up in this gift is a beautiful thing called grace. He was inviting the people into a different way of life, and His invitation still stands.
When we have been saved by Jesus, sometimes we want to shy away from this verse. There is a human element of wanting to earn what we receive. Even though salvation is a free gift, many times we keep striving to earn grace. We load our lives with burdens that we were never intended to bear. We can turn our relationship with God into a checklist. Yet, grace is anything but a checklist. Some shy away from grace, because its hard to decipher the boundaries. We want structure and rules; we want to force grace. Although we don’t say it, sometimes we want grace to cost us something, all the while forgetting that Jesus already paid the price on the cross. The forced rhythms of grace can come from our striving. Yet, in the forcing, the rhythm becomes a convoluted mess. It feels less like a sonnet and more like a dirge.
We can strive to be loved, to be enough, to earn grace, or to be worthy of forgiveness. Yet, in our striving, a deep weariness can consume our lives. Grace does not come from striving and grasping; it comes from opening our hands and receiving. Through striving and grasping for things that feel like they are slipping through your fingers, it will create stress and panic in your life. God’s grace is sufficient. Even when you don’t feel like you are enough, He shall be made strong in your weakness. When we receive salvation, we step into God’s grace. The way we do life begins to shift as we recognize that God is the one who enables us to handle the things before us. The burden that comes from striving is released; there is a lightness and freedom that comes when we truly understand that God’s grace is enough for me today. As you contemplate God’s grace in your own life, lean into the music; it’s time to feel the rhythm of a new song.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.