What fractured lives we can lead. In my head or on paper is my all important to-do list. This list sometimes drives the quality of my day, the value of my life. If items get completed and checked off, I am a success. If not, I have fallen short. It’s a ruthless task master. When it rules, people become objects who interfere with the master plan; I find myself rolling my eyes in Walmart, white knuckling the steering wheel in traffic and then snapping at anyone or thing getting in my way, be it the telemarketer calling as I make dinner or a slow loading computer. I can mask it all with a fake Zen-like smile while being eaten away internally. Is this abundant life? The Lord of the Sabbath speaks,
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, 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 soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus lives these words as he and his disciples take a Sabbath’s walk through the fields of grain and feed themselves on the Sabbath. The Pharisees challenge Jesus and his followers. They want him to play by their rules, on their to time frame and on their home turf. Jesus does not condemn the law, he condemns the stoney, confined hearts who use the law for their purposes, not God’s:
“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ you would have not condemned the innocent. For the Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:6-8
And then Jesus heals the man with the shriveled hand right then, on the Sabbath and in their midst. The Pharisees’ schedules, rules, their to-do lists are shredded to bits before their eyes. God is in their midst and they want to kill him.
Which brings me back to a life dictated by a to-do list. I have no doubt that God calls me to live by priorities, but when He, in all his wonder and grace is replaced by them, the heart stiffens and grows cold. Sabbath rest becomes a task, not the privilege derived from loving Jesus. Mercy is replaced by performance.
Lord, I want a life that seeks your Kingdom first and foremost. May your beauty and glorious imagination breathe life into the weary places in my soul. May I let go of what I know and can control and seize hold of you and the life you have called me to. Amen.