Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'll Sleep When I Am Dead

“I’ll sleep when I am dead.”

How many times have I heard myself say that recently?  I am so tired, and yet I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere near enough rest.  I am exhausted.  Even when I finally do sleep, I am plagued by dreams of my responsibilities and nightmares that wake me up in a cold sweat. 

“I’ll sleep when I am dead.”

This is what I tell myself when I am so tired I feel physically ill.  It is usually around then that ‘something comes up’ and I don’t have time to get some rest.

“I’ll sleep when I am dead.”

I have been saying this for years, but today the meaning changed for me.  I listened to one of the Jesus Culture Leadership Podcasts called Leading from Rest.  The speaker, Banning Liebscher, focused on the story of Jesus calming the storm which is found in Mark 4:35-40.  

As I was listening, it struck me that Jesus was asleep.  I mean, that really isn’t new information, but as a kid that didn’t mean as much to me as I does now.  Now, I am sleep deprived.  I am working a job that isn’t really what I want to do forever, while I am volunteering in a position I feel called to.  I sacrifice sleep (and other forms of rest) so that I can do what God is calling me to do. 

Jesus’ calling was even higher than mine, and his was probably quite a bit more stress inducing than mine.  His was going to end in an excruciatingly painful death; mine involves doing life with middle school and high school students.  Mine is difficult, but it doesn’t even compare to what Jesus did.  With that said, Jesus slept in a boat with a storm raging around him.  I can’t seem to sleep in my warm bed under my parents’ roof.  What is the difference between us?  (Other than the fact that he is God-incarnate, that is.)

It hit me today, as I listened to the podcast, that Jesus knew his whole ministry only existed because of the work of the Father.  Banning kept saying that it was God who builds the house, not us.  I was convicted of holding the hammer and telling God that I’ve got it.  It’s no wonder I am so tired.  I have been trying to build a ministry, and inviting God to come along with me.  It’s totally the other way around.  God called me to join him in HIS work in my students’ lives; I didn’t call God to come with me.  I’m trying to wield tools that don’t belong to me.

When the success of the ministry isn’t on my shoulders, it is much easier to rest.  When I remember that God builds the house, I just get to help where he calls me the weight falls on God, who it more than big enough to carry it.  I can actually rest for a change.  I can sleep without worrying about my kids and leaders.  When I remember who really does the work, I am not burdened by the pain and challenges of loving my kids.  I can just celebrate what God is doing in their lives, and comfort them when they are hurting.  I don’t have to fix them.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

I think I have been looking at that all wrong.  It is more like ‘I will rest when I am dead.’  I will be able to breathe when the burden isn’t all on my shoulders, crushing my lungs.  When I die to myself, and come back to life in Christ I am finally able to rest.  I can rest in my identity as a daughter of the King of Kings.  I can rest in the assurance that God really is looking after ‘my’ kids, and that he does in fact love them more than I can even fathom.  I can rest because I know that ultimately God asked me to join his story, so the spotlight isn’t on me but on him.  I can rest because I belong to Jesus and nothing anyone says or does will ever change that.  He loves me enough that he died for me; of course he will see me through a little storm. 

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Tonight I pray that God reminds me of who is really building the house.  I don’t have to save the world, Jesus already did that.  I just need to love those God brings into my life, and respond in obedience and faithfulness to the promptings of the Spirit.  So tonight, I will finally sleep knowing the pressure isn’t on me.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20

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