"Moses' father-in-law replied, 'What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone."- Exodus 18:17-18
"We are all works in progress." You may recall this phrase I uttered to begin my message last Sunday. That as we are building our lives on God's truths and seeking His perfect will there are areas in each of our lives that the Holy Spirit is targeting for TRANSFORMATION; pointing out for PRUNING; and raising to the surface for RESURRECTION LIFE to be accomplished. While it is true Jesus accomplished everything for us and God has purposed our lives to be complete, that we are still walking IN it and moving TOWARDS it each day. The apostle Paul gives us a reminder of this in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
I needed to be reminded that I am "work in progress" and of the entire message on the weights of worry later that same Sunday. As there has been much happening in my family with birthday celebrations and at the church with the property transition, I was definitely wearing thin and being pulled in multiple directions. Although, Joanie kept warning me to slow down and to not be weighed down by the ever-increasing demands and developments, I thought I was doing good and had a handle on all that was on my plate. Well, as the saying goes, "My eyes were bigger than my stomach." I got to a place where I was tired, maxed out, and anxious. That empty place caused me to not respond in the most gracious, Christ-like manner in the midst of an important conversation/meeting. Almost immediately after my stumbling over the weights of life, I realized I needed to get back to what I had been preaching and what the Holy Spirit had been saying through His Word and through my wonderful wife.
In the above passage in Exodus we find Moses and Israel at the early stages of the journey from Egypt to the Promise Land. They had crossed the Red Sea miraculously. They had been abundantly cared for by the Lord with water, manna, and quail. Yet, as Jethro (Moses' father-in-law) arrives he comes to discover that Moses is filling his schedule, his mind, and his plate deliberating the disputes between the people. Moses was the original "Judge Judy"! How exhausting, how mentally taxing, and even how discouraging to have people argue, complain, and tell their version of the events that have brought them seeking justice. This was a lose-lose proposition in the eyes of Jethro. It was a burden that was too big and system that was set up for failure. He quickly and wisely advises Moses of a better way. His guidance provided relief for Moses, while maintaining the order and health of the community.
As I look back on this past season of all that is transpiring and transitioning in our church and past Sunday's meltdown, I am being reminded again by the Holy Spirit of the importance of experiencing true rest in Jesus. Our Savior invited us to enter into His life and lighten our load in Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." We all need a reminder of how important, how liberating, and how peaceful the presence of the Lord is for us. That reminder is all the more necessary in the midst of all the decisions, deadlines, and dilemmas we face. The more we find ourselves letting go of the weights of life and relying on the Spirit's strength and grace, the more we will find freedom and fruitfulness. By resting more in God's presence, there will be some positive results coming our way:
1) Our time with the Lord will not be marked by needless worry and distraction.
2) Our time of rest (days off or sleep) will not be interrupted or shortened.
3) Our ability to be patient with people will increase.
4) Our ability to serve people will be better.
5) Our words will be seasoned with greater grace, wisdom, and compassion.
6) Our present circumstance and need will not overtake our ability to see God's plan.
What a wonderful thing that Moses had Jethro to speak into his life, that I had Joanie to speak into mine, and that we all have the Holy Spirit speaking God's WORK so that we would PROGRESS in our faith. May we learn from it, live in it, and thoroughly love it!