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Breathe in to breathe out

“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 11:28)

Have you ever been so short of breath you just didn't think you were going to be able to get enough air? I remember being up to bat in softball in High School. The pitch was wickedly hard and it hit me squarely in the side of the chest, throwing me to the ground with quite a bit of force. I laid there for the longest time panicking because I could not take in any air. The air had been knocked from my lungs and I was gasping for my next breath. It was scarier than scary and I never want that to happen again! The 'natural rhythm' of my breathing in and out was disrupted just long enough to give me those few moments of panic - wondering if I was going to pass out and never see this world again. That 'rhythm' of air passing in and out is so important to sustain life, isn't it? If that rhythm is so important and capable of giving us so much concern when it is interrupted, maybe it is possible to feel a similar kind of 'panic' when the 'unforced rhythms of grace' are disturbed in our lives by a lack of drawing near to the presence of God often enough!

To 'get away with God' means we take dedicated time. Nothing else distracts us from the time together. Harder said than done when life demands so much from us and distractions abound at every turn of our heads. In the place where you are reading this right now there are probably over a hundred different distractions from photos on the walls, noises in the background, the smell of the coffee in your cup, and even the scent of your freshly washed hair. Before the day of 'wrinkle assist' in the clothes dryer, that nagging buzzer meant you had to go get them out right then and there or they would be bundled into a mass of wrinkled mess. Today, the dryer will tumble little bits at a time, niggling you with a reminder buzzer every now and again - letting you take a little extra time to get to the task of folding all those clothes. Why was this 'wrinkle assist' thing invented? Sometimes the 'buzzers' interrupted our lives. Interruptions need to be managed - they shouldn't manage us!

I have learned to keep a pencil and paper nearby when I take time with God. Why? To manage the interruptions. My mind will remember I am getting low on laundry detergent, or that I need to check to see that I paid the lawn man this month. Remembering these things frequently happens right when I want to spend uninterrupted time with Jesus. So, I make a quick note, set the paper aside and then get back to it. I 'manage' the interruption - so the 'unforced rhythms of his grace' are free to keep me right where I need to be. Did the interruption come? Yes. Did it manage to distract me? Not really - I didn't follow the distraction's pull - I managed it by making it a later priority. We need these times with our Lord. Don't let the things that 'interrupt' upset the rhythm of his grace in your life. You need to breath his grace in and in the outward breath, you are expelling all those worries, fears, and frustrations that would otherwise keep you in a bundle of panic. You need to 'take in' if you are ever to 'let out' what has your peace so disturbed. Just sayin!

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