Written by Steven Liechty
Emily C. Heath
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
I recently got this little fitness meter that I wear clipped to my belt all day. It counts my steps, tells me how many floors of stairs I climb, and records my activity every day. It even sends me little badges when I hit a milestone and ranks me against my friends. And now I am on vacation and spending my days lapping the grocery store, trying to catch up to the steps of a friend from college I haven't seen in years.
Have you ever judged your self-worth by your productivity? What I mean is have you ever looked at your calendar or "to do" list or even your exercise log and secretly felt like you were so busy that you must be important?
I confess that I have. And, if I'm really being honest with myself, too much of my self-worth comes from being busy. I think that's true for a lot of us. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a hard worker, but for too many of us we assess our own value, and by extension the values of others, by how many hours a week we log at the office, how many miles we put in on the treadmill, or how much time we spend being "productive."
But Jesus reminds us that our worth doesn't come from a packed calendar. The yoke that Jesus offers is not one that requires nothing from us, but it is one that is given to us in order to make our lives better, not just busier. In fact, Jesus invites us to stop working so hard, and to instead find our rest in him.
I don't know about you, but that terrifies the workaholic in me.
But the good news is that Jesus offers us something our busy lives too often lack: meaning. No more do we have to be defined by things that matter very little. Now we are defined only by what will matter eternally: Christ, and Christ's love for us.
So maybe now it's time to define our lives, and our time, only by our love for him. Something tells me our calendars might still be full, but our lives would be a whole lot more joyful.
Loving God, help us to give up our addiction to being "busy." When we are tempted to measure ourselves against our smart phone apps or our paychecks, remind us of the other yoke that we may choose. And when you call us to you on our busiest days, help us to clear a little room in our schedule. Or maybe more than a little. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.