Summary: In a return to an earlier series, Slowing Down (this is now part six of that series), Dave talks about the importance of structuring life so that the right influences “seep into our skin.”
What’s Seeping Through Your Skin?
Slowing Down, part 6
Wildwind Community Church
January 3, 2009
We’re going to do something tonight I have never done before. We’re going to pick up with new sermons in a series that I was doing a few months ago. This series will probably be a major emphasis for us at least for the rest of this year, and every time I touch on a topic in that category, I’m just going to consider it part of that series. Whoever said a series has to be preached in a series?
Our second series of this year was called Slowing Down. We can’t follow Jesus if we are in a hurry. And most of us are in a hurry because that’s the kind of culture we live in. So in order to follow Jesus we must learn to slow down, but in order to slow down we must learn to question, challenge, and then change the assumptions we have made about what is the best way to live – we must restructure our lives. Tonight’s message is called What’s Seeping Through Your Skin. The answer is whatever you’re structuring your life around. Whatever you structure your life around seeps through your skin. It gets to you at the deepest level and becomes part of you.
I know I have shared before the story of how, a few years ago, I called a friend for some spiritual guidance and he said, “You might check out the book, ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted,’ by John Ortberg.” Immediately I replied, “I’ve already read that.” The phone line was silent for a moment, then he said, “Are you doing any of it?” There’s a big difference between hearing and doing – a big difference between knowing it would be good to do something and actually doing it. That’s why we’ll keep adding messages to this series all year. Because I might have to speak on the critical importance of structuring our lives in certain ways to make it possible to follow Christ several times a year for the next five years before most people really start applying this stuff and nailing it down. But if we don’t apply it – if we don’t have our lives scheduled properly – if we haven’t taken control of how we are living – then despite our best intentions we simply will be unable to do hardly anything else I preach about. Because following Jesus happens in a certain context. What is that context? It is a life of order, of structure, of rest, so we can remain close to Christ through the ordinary moments of our day.
Let’s look at Matthew 11:28-30 again. I know I’ve shown it to you a thousand times. Let’s keep looking at it until it seeps under our skin and into our lives. I’ve typically read this to you out of The Message translation, but tonight I want to use the Amplified Bible so you can see it with fresh eyes. This version is called Amplified because it routinely explains itself in parentheses right inside the text itself.
Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP)
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
Here we see that following Jesus is something that happens when we approach Jesus and allow him to “cause” us to rest! Following Jesus happens restfully, not hectically. Following Jesus does not create hardship, rather it eases and relieves and refreshes our souls. Does that describe you? Are you generally (perhaps not always but generally) rested and relieved and refreshed in your soul?
I think honestly most of us have to say no. We are not rested. For example I think most of us are NOT observing a regular Sabbath day –a day of rest where we intentionally refrain from work and take time to honor God in special ways. The last time I preached on the Sabbath, I actually had some people who expressed quite a bit of irritation over it. “That’s not realistic.” “That can’t be done.” “How is that even possible?”
My friends, I do not dispute that the call to a weekly Sabbath is a strong call – it’s a tall order – a big charge. But it is a charge God has given us and we probably should look at it as often as we have to until we learn how to do it! Thomas Merton wrote: “There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence…activism and overwork . The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence…It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”