Balance. Have you ever heard the word used this way, “I’m having a hard time balancing everything in my life.”? Or, “You just need to find balance.” It’s common to believe that what you’re missing in life, why you’re having such a hard time, why you’re overwhelmed and feel like a failure, is balance. If you could just achieve balance then your problems would go away and you’d be happy. Balance is a terrible way to live because you’re always inches away from a crash. 

28-30 “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 MSG)

Forced Rhythms

This famous quote from Jesus doesn’t mention balance. But we tend to read it with our it’s up to me/balance mindset and hear this instead;

preview“Are you tired? Worn out? Go to God and tell Him you’re worn out and tired. You’ll feel better. Don’t actually turn your problems over to Him and let go though, keep trying hard to make it work. You can handle this. You just need to balance your life and being religious better. Don’t admit you’re failing. Keep doing what you’re doing just try to add in God more.”

Does that ring a bell? Hard to admit it but this is what actually ends up happening if we are honest. We are afraid to let go of control. We’d rather continue to force our way towards having it all. Author Tullian Tchividjian calls this Performancism. Performanicsm is when we keep trying to live out our identity through achievement. We refuse to let go of control. We try and prove that we can get it done and handle things on our own. The pressure to prove our capability is real. After all, who wants to admit that they are a failure and have no ability to make things better?

So why do we try and “balance” when we could give up? I’m not advocating fatalistic apathy where we dig a hole and die in it. There’s a better way, the way Jesus was drawing us towards in Matthew. Read it again. Do you see it? Jesus was saying, “Come to ME. Learn from ME. Walk with ME. Live freely.” Sounds more like living imbalanced. The way of Jesus isn’t defined by balancing everything but rather by submitting everything.

UNforced Rhythms 

What is it that you are trying to balance? As a teen I remember the list was; school, friends, work, money, fun, food, church and media. My goal as a teen was to try and cram as much of each one into my schedule every week and not disappoint anyone. Then I became an adult, found more things to juggle, and found out I disappointed everyone, especially myself.

The way of Jesus calls us to lay down our need for control and trust His goodness. His goal for us is not performance it’s actually rest. Not a physical laziness but rather a relational dependance. Instead of trying to prove to God, or others, that we have it all together we can live as sinners saved by grace.

The problem with walking alongside Jesus though, is that He might not walk where you want to go. He might want to walk you through suffering, loss, or failure. But it’s not punishment, it’s purification. We often see the problems of our life as an oppression that keeps us from the things we want but what if it s God’s way of setting us free to gain what we need?

cactusIn God’s love for us He knows that the path to freedom requires loss. In this case, losing control is finding freedom. If you want to find your life, lose it. But the losing actually leads to winning.

Living Freely

If you are ready to be okay with losing then you are ready to live free. If you are fine with admitting that you are a failure your primed to hug grace. If you and I try to hold on to control all we end up hugging is the cactus of our sin. Ouch. I’m glad that God offers another option. The work of Jesus on the cross gave every loser a chance to share in His success. Jesus works on our behalf so that we don’t have to. He died so that we don’t have to. We don’t have to earn eternal life, salvation, forgiveness, and life – He did it for us.

Turn your arms outward instead of clinging to yourself. Freedom is found when we find our hope in Jesus alone. When we lay down every area of our life to His will. When we find our true identity in Jesus not our performance. You can’t balance freedom. You either live out of freedom or you spend all your effort living to gain freedom. It is for freedom that Christ has set you free and once you are free in Christ you are free indeed.

Even while we were a cactus God embraced us. May you rest as you walk with Jesus. Find your life in His unforced rhythms and embrace a life of imbalance. More of Him and less of you.

-Josh