Written by Marina Hanna
How many times have you said something to this effect: “If I can just get through this, then I will finally be able to…” ? If you’re a North American young adult like me, you’ve probably heard it this way: “If I can just survive this semester, I’ll finally be able to rest.” Or perhaps it’s “Once I graduate I’ll get to sleep a full eight hours” or “I just need the caffeine to live right now. I’ll give it up once I’ve gotten through this paper.”
These statements show how we can be living in a constant, frenzied expectation of something better, just over the next hill.
I recently turned 19 and am now beginning to consider how I will build a life for myself. I’ve done a lot of soul searching about the kind of life I want to lead. I’ve observed the adults around me in search of a life worth imitating. However, everywhere I look I see exhaustion, frustration, disorganization, and stress. I see over-caffeinated people overwhelmed at the length of their to-do lists. I see people who live to crash on the weekend, and never allow themselves a moment of pause to think, dream, laugh, or even smile. It makes me ask myself, “What kind of a life is that?”
After so much observation, my conclusion is this: I loathe the rat race, and I refuse to be a participant in it. It’s a lifestyle of perpetual busy-ness that I want to be as separated from as possible. Yet, it’s everywhere I look: in the workplace, household, classroom, and even the church.
So what am I to do? Jesus Christ himself said this: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT).
Did you catch that? The burden He offers us is light. When you look at your own life, do you experience a sense of lightness, of peaceful freedom? The truth is, you’re supposed to. Your new life in Christ is supposed to be marked by a rested soul, whose burden is light. A life like that is marked by joy, peace, patience, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone whose countenance indicates either of those qualities, but I’m trying to believe it’s possible.
It’s important that I make something clear: I’m not suggesting that as a committed follower of Christ, you must feel content and carefree all the time. I know that Christ promises us suffering and heartbreak will come in this lifetime (John 16:33). However, the ideal difference between a believer and non-believer is not a consistent state of bliss, but a deep and abiding peace. That peace should proceed from a wholehearted trust in God, and a mind focused on the prize that lies ahead (Philippians 3:13), rather than just the next appointment in your iPhone calendar.
In Romans 12:2 Jesus cautions against loving the things of this world and suggests an alternative: experiencing transformation by the renewal of one’s mind. I see this verse not as an invitation to move my gaze heavenward again. As I am now, I wander around my own world and notice this lifestyle of perpetual busy-ness beckoning me to itself, like a siren to a sailor. In a way, the air of importance it displays to others is alluring, but I sense God calling me to more.
I believe He is asking us to hand over the pesky busywork we unnecessarily impose upon ourselves, so that He might equip us with burdens that are both lighter and more fulfilling. I only hope that we have the courage to stand still long enough for this exchange to take place.