Many things in our lives take hard work. Most of those things give us callused hands. If our walk with God is like that work, eventually we’ll get a callused heart. Unable to feel compassion, contentment, comfort, or conviction, we’ll settle for guilt, condemnation, judgement and anger.
It’s a good thing to stop every once in a while and ask ourselves this question.
"How difficult is it for me to be a good Christian?"
A while back Lori and I travelled to Las Vegas. While staying at the Luxor Hotel, we went to a day spa. I had never been to any such thing before, so I didn’t know what to expect. One of my favorite things about it was the sauna, with eucalyptus steam. Sitting in there in the intense heat, breathing in the sinus clearing eucalyptus steam was a refreshing and restful experience.
As I left the sauna, I was sweating, so I went to the huge jacuzzi, where I soaked for as long as I could stand the water. Then I grabbed some juice, a newspaper, and just sat on a lounge chair by the pool for a good while.
I abided in that spa for just a couple of hours and it refreshed me more than anything else on that trip. Imagine if I could pack up that day spa in a box and take it with me anywhere. The next time I need a break from whatever is frustrating me, I take a few minutes to soak in the dense, refreshing eucalyptus steam.
How much more kind, patient, compassionate, and loving would I be if I could experience that anytime, anywhere? I’m getting to a place where I’m realizing that experience the presence of God is every bit as refreshing as that spa. It refreshes my spirit, my mind, and my soul.
Abiding in God instead of working for him
Jesus instructed us to abide in him as He abides in us ( John 15:4 ). Should that be something that take a lot of work. Does it take a lot of work to abide in your house? When you sit down on your sofa, is that a lot of work? Do you have to earn the right to be in your house? Maybe your house needs some work done, so it does take some work. But Jesus ain’t no fixer-upper. He don’t need any work. Abiding in him is a place of resting, not a place of labor.
If we perceive our walk with God to be one that involves strain, friction, tension, labor, etc… we begin to develop calluses on our heart that prevent us from experiencing the fruits of the Spirit. We think that praying must be done a certain way, at a certain time of day, in a certain place. So getting to that place is sometimes difficult, but we strain to make it there faithfully because that’s what a good Christian does.
We work so hard making sure that no one else experiences any kind of inconvenience or hardship, maybe partly because we think God expects that of us. So our relationship with him becomes callused.
God is not our work
There are certainly things in this life that will require us to work hard. We will develop calluses to many things. We’ll grow callused to the shock of waking up early in the morning. We’ll grow callused to the cold wind on our face. We may even grow callused to the back breaking labor required to do some of our jobs.
But God is not our work. Our work is not a prerequisite for being in relationship with him. It’s important not to confuse the two. God is IN our work, but he is not our work. Our work may give us calluses, but God will not.
Rest for the weary
Some people have been building callused hands and hearts by working for a God they barely know for so long that they wouldn’t hear God’s voice if he spoke to them verbally. The good news is that there’s a place of rest for even those tired laborers. No heart is too callused that he can’t soften it. No spirit is so callused that he can’t break through.
Give your religious job your two weeks notice. You just got a new place to live and it’s already paid for.