“I’m going to run away.”
I have this thought too much.
Regardless if the contents of my life are favorable or insufferable, I am always vying to run, to bolt, to hide, to escape. I walk the fine line between optimistically and reverently approaching my life while also wishing desperately to get out from under the expectations and burdens of my life. The tension of this dual reality threatens to crush me when it reaches its fever pitch.
I have this default reel that plays in my mind when my stress mounts. It’s of me slinging my back around my shoulders and hurriedly running away from all of the emails, stacks of paper, requests, planning, bills, deadlines, phone calls, and proposals. The city is behind me and rolling hills with a setting sunset is before me. I drive to some unknown country where humans are scarce and I am free to come and go as I please with no technological ties or people waiting on me to deliver something. In my mind, I have broken loose of all that holds me back and holds me down and I breathe in liberation in its purest form.
But this is a lie. In fact, this desire is an evidence of the curse of the fall. This drawing away of my heart from my work, those that I love, and the mission the Lord has set before me painfully reminds me that I am broken on a molecular level. On one level it reveals that I am never satisfied. I am never satisfied with my work or with leisure because my satisfaction should be in Christ alone.
I am also not satisfied because the balance of my delight in work is off kilter due to the presence of sin. Before the fall, everything was in harmony, including our internal settings for work, play, and purpose. Today, however, my inclination is easily subdued by the futility of work and the glorification of an escape. The reverse of that is true as well. The fall even creates the glorification of working myself to the bone so I can subconsciously put others down for not keeping up with my caliber of discipline and commitment.
On another level, this heart disposition indicates that I am bearing on my shoulders the weight of all that I endeavor to do instead of turning it over immediately to Jesus. I have to carry the day. I have to come through. I have to accomplish the task. I have to excel. I have to be impressive. I have to help. I have to rescue. I have to do it all. The truth is, I’m not able. And thank God! The band Needtobreathe said it well in their song, Able:
There’s a host of hurts we come across
None of which are alike
From the air inside the birthing room
To the darkness where we die
Though I feel I’m just as strong as any man I know
I’m not able
Carry around the secrets
Only heaven knows
Crawl into our darkened rooms where only victims go
Though I feel I’m strong enough to carry all this load
I’m not able.
My life’s activities and encounters kick off this fight or flight response. I have to combat this with the words of Christ: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (matt. 11:28-30)
Instead of internalizing my work and life to the degree that my body thinks I am being attacked and wants to run away or escape, I must practice the discipline of going to Christ. When I think that what I long for is a lonely mountain to hide in, I should instead go to the rest that Christ offers which far exceeds the rest that woods and rivers can provide me.
*Disclaimer* What I am not saying is that a person shouldn’t take a vacation, pace themselves schedule-wise, or not work hard. What I am saying is that I cannot work, rest, or even find a balance between those two without the power of the resurrected Christ working in me. Furthermore, I should be asking myself where my desires are surfacing from when I want to jet out of a meeting with someone. Because it’s more than just an overly busy calendar. It’s because I am not finding my satisfaction and rest in Jesus. The answer to my self-questioning should be that Christ is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (eph. 3:20)
So if I am going to run away, I am going to run to Christ. And if I am going to find true rest it will be in the Person of my mighty Rescuer, not my escape-fantasy. And if the job is going to get done on Monday morning it will have to be the burden-bearing God who will get it done, not me.
I’m not able.