Unforced Rhythms of Grace

The following is an excerpt from Start With Amen by Beth Guckenberger.

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28–30 (MSG)

Unforced rhythms of grace. When I read that phrase, my soul takes a deep breath. I am a natural striver; I don’t have to push everything through. I am a constant planner; God prefers rhythms, soft and natural. It’s not about capacity; it’s about tempo. I push myself to the nth degree, often to my own detriment. God offers unmerited favor, unearned and unwarranted. He says he won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on me. He says I can live freely and lightly. If our evangelistic pitches started here, how many more would listen?

Recently, I was buying a bathing suit and found myself in the dressing room with one I had no business picking up. This must be what ill-fitting looks like, I smirked, looking in the mirror. How often do I walk around in spiritual clothes that don’t fit? Pretending to be who I am not or wanting something he isn’t offering? It’s never been his design that I put on what he was meant to carry.

But will I grasp amen? The answer depends on which of the two forces battling for my life I give authority. One is the gospel, full of words like redemption and reconciliation. But our opposition has schemes of his own.

Instead of redemption, his plot is condemnation. He wants us to be lost.

Instead of reconciliation, he wants our relationships broken, for destruction to rule.

These oppositions can sprinkle themselves throughout my day and find their way into my relationships, affecting my attitude and the way I work. When I default there, aligning with the enemy’s strategy instead of the gospel, I lose hope. I also lose my bearings, and I inevitably advance the agenda of the one who wants to kill, steal, and destroy me.

If amen had an opposite, it would be no. As I begin to fall apart and find I am losing heart, I can always track the start of the downward spiral to a no. (No, that’s not fair. No, I can do it myself. No, I won’t admit that. No, no, no, no.) Suddenly, I am defensive or overwhelmed. I am anxious or offended. I cut off the flow of the Spirit in me and insert my rights above all else. Turning any ugly moment around begins softly with an agreement to so be it. It’s the subtle but powerful yes to lay down your life, to trust that his life being glorified is better than mine. Yes, you have another way, Lord. Yes, I’ll know it because it looks free and light.

Yes, I will surrender.

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About Beth Guckenberger

Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in education, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Since founding the international arm of Back2Back in 1997, they have hosted thousands of guests on the ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children. Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014). Beth is the recipient of the the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry Legacy Award and the Cincinnati Christian University Salute to Leaders Award for her and Back2Back’s impact on children internationally. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings and church services. Her style is based in story-telling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary and parent of nine children for illustrations of biblical concepts. – See more at: http://www.bethguckenberger.com

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