A friend of mine runs “ultras,” races between 50 and 100 miles in distance. Imagine running from Milwaukee to Chicago. Could you do it? How does anyone do it? As far as I know, no one actually runs the entire distance non-stop. The strongest athlete would collapse in sheer exhaustion. The key is to intersperse the running with strategically timed walking or rest breaks. Even a few minutes of rest gives tired muscles a chance to recuperate. 30 seconds for a protein bar and an energy drink can fuel the body for miles down the road. Quality rest is essential for running and finishing the race.
That is just as true for our spiritual course through this life. Jesus redeemed us from sin and death, “that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and joy” (Luther’s Small Catechism). We love the Lord and want to serve Him with our gifts in every way we can. It might include teaching Sunday school, serving on a church activity committee, encouraging someone with the Word, giving generous offerings, helping family, volunteering in the community. The possibilities are endless.
All these acts of service are worthwhile, but where do you find the motivation and strength to keep going? Does it ever seem as though you’re in the middle of a 100 mile run and your legs feel like two chunks of cement? How do you keep serving and giving of yourself when you’re totally drained with nothing more to give?
Take a break. There were times when Jesus took the disciples away from the crowds so that they could eat and rest, but most importantly so that they could listen to Him and receive refreshment for their souls. That’s what we need most of all too. When serving others becomes a burden you resent, take some time off. Use it to read the Word which assures us that our place as children in His family is not due to how much we do and how hard we work, but is a free gift through Jesus’ saving work. Let the Word assure you that the Lord knows all about the troubles and trials of life, and that He is always there to either lift the burden or give you the strength to carry it. He bore our burden of sin all the way to the cross, so that we can live in peace with God. Our works of service are not done to earn salvation, but are the expression of humble gratitude for undeserved blessings.
Take some time today for the best kind of rest, rest in the Word. Let’s plan and look forward to the refreshment of gathering in the Lord’s house tomorrow for the strength we need for another week of serving Him who first served us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Yours in Christ,
The service tomorrow is at 9 a.m.