“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
Have you ever peed in the ocean? If your answer is no, you’re lying to yourself. If you have ever been in the ocean (even if just for 2 minutes), chances are that you have relieved yourself. Am I wrong?
Now I’m looking for brutal honesty here…
Have you ever peed in the pool? Your answer is still probably very similar to the first question (unfortunately). However, it was probably followed up with, “Well I’m sure I did when I was little, but I don’t anymore!”.
Why is it that we are less ashamed and more likely to pee in the ocean than the pool? Why are we willing to admit that we have peed in the ocean? Why do we announce to our friends, “wow it’s warm over here” after peeing in the ocean but wouldn’t dare to do that in a pool (hopefully)?
I admit this has been a pretty gross intro, but I promise if you’ll hang with me, we’ll move on from the subject of pee and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Last week, I was blessed to take a short adventureous trip to the beach for a couple of days. I was super excited for more than one reason, but especially because I have always felt as though God’s voice was clearer to me when by the ocean. I know that this isn’t true, but it’s easier to focus on His voice when you are surrounded by such huge reminders of how amazing His creation is (AKA the ocean).
I was hoping for some profound words or deep realization, but instead, He spoke to me about peeing in the ocean.
This, my friends, is why I tend to call Him Sassy Jesus.
Peeing in the ocean? Really?
One morning I was eating breakfast on the back porch of our rental house that sat on the intercoastal canal when I noticed that the water in the canal was motionless. Every other morning that I had eaten my breakfast overlooking the canal, the water was flowing and absolutely beautiful.
However, this morning, it looked gross. The water was no longer a breathtaking blue color that flowed gently with the wind as random fish flew through the air every now and then, but it was stagnant. It had turned a muddy color. There were bugs flying around instead of fish and there were random remnants of nature floating on top. Gross, right?
Needless to say, my gorgeous breakfast site had taken a turn for the worst.
As I sat and stared at the stagnant water, I heard God ask me, “What if the ocean stayed still?”.
Odd question, but I’ll play along. I don’t know. I guess it would be absolutely disgusting. With all the animals in it, their disposal of waste, pollution, trash, humans, and OH the human pee! I don’t even want to think about it!
As gross as it is that these things are already floating around in the ocean, millions of us travel to the ocean each year as a vacation. Why doesn’t this gross us out? Because the water is constantly moving. It is never at a stand still. The waves are relentless. You are never surrounded by the same water twice.
The more I sat and thought about this, what if the ocean really did sit completely still? I wouldn’t want to get within 20 miles of it, let alone spend days traveling to get into it. It would stink so incredibly bad, lose it’s vibrant blue color, and be terrifyingly disgusting.
God then whispered to my heart, “What would happen if you stayed still?”.
Wow. You got me there pal.
Basically, God was making a comparison between my life and the ocean. When it’s moving in a constant rhythm, it’s beautiful. It’s something I want to be apart of. Something I travel hundreds of miles to enjoy. But if it were to stop moving, stop participating in the rhythm it was created for, it would be the absolute last thing I would want to visit.
What if I turned stagnant? What if I stopped participating in the natural rhythms that God has created me for? I would become someone that no one would want to hang out with, no one would want to invite over for dinner, no one would want to get close to because the stench of the still waters is so apparent.
At first, I was like, “Well God I don’t stay still! I’m always moving! My life is crazy busy if you haven’t noticed!”, and that’s when He changed my whole outlook.
He didn’t point this out to me to tell me I’m not busy enough, but He pointed it out to remind me of the rhythm of the waves. He created us with our own rhythm. And just like the ocean, we need to embrace our rhythm.
How do we know what those rhythms look like? The gospel points us in the right direction as we take a look at Jesus’ life.
Here’s just a few examples:
The rhythm of Sabbath:
“And Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” -Luke 4:16
“Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” -Mark 2:27
The rhythm of prayer:
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16
“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” -Luke 6:12
The rhythm of retreating:
“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.” -Mark 2:13
“When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” -Matthew 14:13
I could go on and on, but the point is that Jesus came and lived out the beautiful rhythms that our lives should reflect. Without these rhythms, we are as useful as a still ocean. We are as damaging as an ocean without waves.Jesus came and lived out the beautiful rhythms that our lives should reflect. Without these rhythms, we are as useful as a still ocean. We are as damaging as an ocean without waves. Click To Tweet
We were meant to constantly be moving towards Jesus. Our waves are the rhythms that get us there.We were meant to constantly be moving towards Jesus. Our waves are the rhythms that get us there. Click To Tweet
We’ve also seen what can happen when the waves of the ocean are really out of whack on the opposite spectrum. When the waves are out of control, busy, whipping around like crazy, a tsunami or hurricane appears. It wreaks havoc on anything or anyone in its path.
Our lives can also look like this if we do the opposite with our waves of rhythm. If we take on too many commitments, say yes to one too many responsibilities, etc. Once again, no one wants to be around someone who is on this spectrum either.
That is why these unforced rhythms of grace that Jesus talks about in Matthew are so important to our day-to-day lives. We need these rhythms to even out our waves. We need to move so we aren’t stagnant, but we need to move in a gracious rhythm rather than at the pace of a hurricane.
As we embrace these rhythms that Jesus sets out for us, we experience the kind of life that He talks about in this verse. We’ll learn how to live freely and light. We will live our lives to our fullest potential, harboring plenty of joy and freedom to spread around. As the ocean has become a great home to so many sea animals, creatures, and vegetation, our lives will become a symbol of love, joy, and home to others.As the ocean has become a great home to so many sea animals, creatures, and vegetation, our lives will become a symbol of love, joy, and home to others. Click To Tweet
So follow the waves, live the unforced rhythms of grace, and pee in the ocean as long as it doesn’t stop moving