As we celebrate the Prince of Peace we may get robbed of peace!
What a tragic irony that would be! Let’s resist the cultural swirl of hurrying here and there and internalizing stress. We can relax… even in December!
It’s all about how we react to stress.
For instance, I had a conversation with Dallas Willard in which I told him I was going to lead a retreat for the staff of a megachurch. At that time I’d led many retreats for smaller communities, but not for 150 leaders! I didn’t know how to facilitate intimacy with Jesus for such a large group.
Dallas remarked, “I hope you’re not anxious about it.”
I hesitated for a few moments. I was feeling stressed, but looking into Dallas’ eyes I came back to my senses.
“No,” I replied. “Jesus is leading the retreat and I’m assisting him. I just want to draw people to him.”
“That’s exactly right!” Dallas beamed.
When I led that retreat the pressure was off of me. I was in Jesus’ easy yoke. The peace of God was guarding my heart (Philippians 4:7). It was an example of learning to do a hard thing in an easy way.
It’s why the title of my book is Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke. Walking in cadence with Jesus in a two person yoke through daily life is our very best life!
For most of us December is a stressful month! We have presents to buy and the stores are crowded. We have events and parties to attend. Everywhere we go there’s traffic and things take longer and probably we get running late. We gather with family and sometimes there are conflicts.
All the while we know it’s Advent and we look to the precious Christ child who comes to us from heaven and is laid in the manger. But do we appreciate him as the Lord and Teacher of the Gospels? On the cross? Risen from the dead? Returning on the clouds to bring us home to heaven? These are the “comings” of Christ’s Advent.
Jesus’ yoke-teaching for us is always the same: “Come to me, you who are stressed and tired, and I will give you rest. Step into the grace-yoke with me — let’s walk together and I’ll help you get your work done in a relaxed way.” (Matthew 11:28-29, paraphrased)
What challenge are you facing? Try my easy yoke breath prayer: “In Jesus’ name… Not my strain…” (Inspired by Psalm 20:7 and Matthew 11:28)
(Breathe in slowly.) “In Jesus’ name…”
(Breathe out slowly.) “Not my strain…”
Think of inhaling as receiving the gift of Jesus’ name…
Think of exhaling as releasing stress…
Practicing this “off the spot” now can help you do it when you’re “on the spot” in a long line at the store. Or going to a gathering with a difficult person. Or your finances come up short.
Lord Jesus, as I celebrate your birth, please teach me to know your peace.
(This devotional was adapted from Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke: Rhythms of Grace to De-Stress and Live Empowered.)
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