I am tired. For the past three months I have been working towards the goal of putting our house on the market, and I am finally there. After all the repairs and staging over these months, today I scrubbed the house up and down so the realtor could take photos and post them online. By tomorrow morning people will have the chance to see and buy.
Selling our house is one of the many transitions in my life right now, and Jason and I are a bit tired emotionally and spiritually because of everything. I am so thankful that at the end of the day I have Jesus. Our God welcomes the exhausted. Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Last week I went to the Right Now conference, a ministry leadership event in Dallas. Out of the 18 sermons I heard over the three-day conference, my favorite was given by Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor from Florida. Perhaps it stuck out because it was the last one and therefore easier to remember. Or perhaps it’s my favorite because I started with somewhat low expectations of Tullian, and he greatly surpassed them. (I should not have had a critical thought, but admittedly part of me wondered if he would actually be a good preacher or if he was riding on the coattails of his grandfather, Billy Graham.) Maybe I am still meditating on Tullian’s sermon because at the conclusion of the three-day conference, I was exhausted – and exhaustion was the very topic of Tullian’s sermon.
Are you feeling exhausted today?
Tullian gave this quote: “The greatest temptation is to think that by further, better, and more aggressive living, we can have life.”
His thesis was this: We are addicted to self-salvation projects.
That is the root cause of all our exhaustion. Inside and outside the church – every one of us is addicted to performance-ism. “Performance-ism” is the mindset that equates our identity and value directly with our performance.
Success = life.
Failure = death.
The musts of life are many. Expectations of a spouse, deadlines at work, the pressure to fix our kids, the stress to secure a sense of significance, to be approved, and validated. We conclude that if we are going to experience these things, we have to make it happen.
We all long for significance and acceptance. And we feel we have to go out and get it ourselves.
When we feel the weight of judgment – the fact that we are not measuring up and not getting it right – we try to appease it with self-salvation. We try to appease the judge with hard work, good behavior, getting good grades, losing weight. If I just try harder…
Maybe my husband will pay attention to me if I lose weight.
Maybe my wife will respect me if I make more money.
Maybe my parents will accept me if I am a good girl.
Those are self-salvation projects.
We are weary because we are doing these project and we feel our very identity is at stake.
The cause of our exhaustion is a drive to save ourselves. I have to make such-in-such happen in order to make me feel like I matter.
We are all addicted to self-salvation projects. And it wears us out.
I agree with Tullian’s thesis. It’s what is going on underneath, even when we do not realize it. I am Type A with a hardcore Protestant work ethic drilled into me as I grew up. Maybe I struggle with it but not everyone does, or at least not in the same way. Accomplishment and work well done has always been important to me. I would like to think that the desire to achieve goals and helping friends with theirs comes from a source of purity, but the insidious temptation to achieve, look, and act for the sake of validating myself is always going to be there.
I don’t want to wear myself out working towards something that will never bring satisfaction.
Tullian said the cure for this problem is to remember God’s word of Grace. He said that is why we need to go to worship every Sunday: to remind ourselves and be reoriented that Jesus paid it all. That it is finished. That he has taken on the burden so yours can be empty and light.
Jesus set us free from sin and death. But what does that feel and look like in daily living? One way it plays out is that it frees us from the obligation to fix ourselves and other people. (The church is filled with fixers, by the way.)
The temptation is to think, I have to win to matter. I have to get people to think about me a certain way for me to count. We are constantly trying to justify ourselves by what we do. But Jesus came to satisfy the deep judgment once and for all.
It’s not about you and what you do. It’s about Jesus and what he has done.
The law offends us because it tells us what to do. Grace offends us even more because it tells us there’s nothing we can do.
Jesus’ blood covers all my efforts to glorify myself. The hub of the Christian faith is not to do something for Jesus. The gospel is that Jesus has done everything for you.
Sometimes I need to be told to get out there, quit being lazy, and love people better. More often, though, I need to be reminded that …
Because Jesus won for me, I’m free to lose.
Because Jesus is strong for me, I am free to be weak.
Because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary.
Taking a deep breath in, and a deep breath out, I remember the Truth. And I feel a little less tired. And a little more at rest.