Just plain weary

 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted  Hebrews 12:3


Weary.  That's what I have been tempted to be for nearly a year. 


More than tired or even exhausted - "weary" seeps deeper than muscles and bones and saturates the soul.  Depletes it, actually.


It's been a very full year.  On top of previous full years.  Culminations of joys and challenges.  Of demands and disappointments.  Of opportunities and setbacks.  Of blessings and burdens.  Personal heartaches.  Ministry celebrations.  Relational mountaintops and career valleys. Gains.  A severe loss.


I have often felt just myself sliding into a place called weary. 


On several occasions, I wanted to follow the advice of several blog posts and books that are making the rounds lately to "give yourself grace".  Well intentioned I know, to provide support and encouragement during some tough spots. To offer strength for the weary and deplete soul. (What actually worked for me was not the books and the blog posts but rather the overwhelming outpouring of cards and texts and meals and flowers and Tab - and every single one has been deeply needed, appreciated, and treasured - once more let me say thank you and that every single thing nourished my soul!!!)

But some of the advice touted in a few of the blogs and books fell flat.  The theme of "give ourselves grace" stuff.  While I am all for grace, (and all NOT for pretense and perfectionism) I don't think that means we wallow in our ineptitude and ask for a pass from the demands of life.  I see a disturbing trend among us Church folk actually.  In an attempt to stay far from the legalistic approach of rigid rule keeping in an attempt to be "super Christian", is it possible that we have fallen for an equally dangerous lie that grace means "anything goes,so take it easy on yourself"?


That's not what grace means!  Grace isn't "going easy on myself" - grace is the power God gives us to do the right thing, apart from our own ability!  So "giving myself grace" does not mean to remove myself from responsibilities, to give myself permission to be slack and self-indulgent, in an effort to provide an easier way for myself.  Yes, there can and should be seasons of rest and refreshing but excusing myself from the disciplines of grace will not replenish my soul.


Instead, I think Hebrews 12:3 gives us the remedy for weariness.  The way to cure and to prevent soul-depletion.


Consider Him.


So that I won't grow weary, consider Him.


What about Him should I consider, in order to not grow weary?


Here's what helped me during this past year - maybe it will help you, too...


1.  Jesus got up early to pray.   Mark 1:35 - And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed


I can already hear some protests - But I'm not a morning person!  That's legalistic!  I pray better when I am awake!!!!  OK, take it up with Jesus.  He got up early to pray.  Very early while it was still dark (before or after the time change?  I'm not sure). 
This has been more than critical for me during these past several months, especially.  Getting up early - while it is still dark - to pray. 


'Nuf said.


2.  Jesus cared for others, even in times of great personal stress and grief.  Matthew 14 tells us of the beheading of John the Baptist and Jesus's reaction.... 10 He(Herod) sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.”


Get this picture on this - Jesus dearly loved his cousin, John.  He was well aware of the significance of John's life and ministry and was undoubtedly grieved to hear of his gruesome death.  He wanted some time away (oh yes I can relate!).  But what happened, instead?  He was followed by a needy crowd.  He could have said, "hey guys, cut me some slack. John just got beheaded and I need some time alone to recharge my batteries."  I feel sure that is what the books and bloggers would have advised Him to do!


But He didn't.  He had compassion on them. Compassion!  Not irritation.  Not impatience.  Not consternation - compassion! He healed the sick all day long.  And then He served some more.  This was the feeding of the multitudes with the loaves and fishes miracle. 


All because Jesus served others instead of Himself.


The deliberate choice to serve when I wanted to be served actually has brought great joy. God is always abundantly generous to more than meet my needs and to bless me beyond measure...often from sources I didn't anticipate.  Especially this past year. 


3.  Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The exhortation given in  2 Timothy 2:1-6 is a far cry from permission to cut ourselves some slack - You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops


Suffer well.
Be a good soldier.
Aim to please Christ, not one's self.
Follow the rules. (not much space for "freely express yourself....)
Work hard.


Wow.


As I look back over the past several months particularly, I see a couple of deliberate choices that I want to share.  They are fruit of the discipline of grace, of my desire to be a good soldier.  These choices have brought great soul-satisfaction beyond the direct benefits they provide. Because they have required discipline (commitment and follow-through), they bore fruit that is a by-product of endurance, a benefit in and of itself.  (Hebrews 12:7, 11 - It is for discipline that you endure...all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.)
I already mentioned one - getting up early to spend time with the Lord  Even earlier than usual so I could spend more time than normally.  It's been rich.
The other habit I have practiced for these months - walking early in the morning.  Just a couple of miles.  In the early morning.  Outside at "o'dark thirty".  Even in the pouring rain.  It didn't provide any weight loss like Prevention Magazine promised.  It didn't deliver more energy like exercise is supposed to do.  And I haven't regained my svelte 16 year old body shape (yet!)  But it has yielded far more.  A satisfaction that comes from being disciplined.  Peaceful fruit of righteousness.


Give myself grace? The antidote to weariness?
Well, if it means to consider Jesus instead of myself well, yes, I do believe I will.