Jesus Is a Model of Work-Life BalanceDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Remember the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas? He hates the noisy crowds of Christmas. Crowds of kids playing with toys. Crowds of people feasting and laughing. Crowds of people singing. I imagine the Grinch would hate smart phones.
A smart phone provides nearly constant access to the noisy crowd of humanity. Anybody can call us anytime. But they can also email us or message us or just broadcast their personal noise into our pockets through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube. Sometimes I want to shout with the Grinch, "There's one thing I hate, all the noise, noise, noise, noise!"
Jesus understood the danger of noisy crowds, so he regularly withdrew to the wilderness to pray. This is one reason why his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). It is not just that he offers an alternative to rules-based religion. He offers us grace, and the means to experience grace daily through prayer.
We have to make it an ambition to pray and lead a quiet life. There will always be more work to do! There will always be a crowd to celebrate our good work. The crowd praised Jesus for what he did, so he withdrew. He stopped healing people in order to pray. Jesus did not come to do good deeds and work hard to redeem the world by the sweat of his brow. Similarly, we must never think that our good deeds and creative work will redeem the world.
Jesus Christ redeemed the world by his very nature, which could not be constrained by death. We must have this same mindset as Jesus Christ, and, like Jesus, we must withdraw daily and visit with God. God will remind us of our very nature. He will say, "You are my child." And when I remember who I am before God, my daily to-do list will be manageable and good. My obligations will seem light. After prayer, I will be able to pick up my phone and serve the crowd without anxiety.
Remember the end of the Grinch's story? After spending time reflecting in the wilderness at the top of a mountain—puzzling until his puzzler was sore—his heart grows larger. He whizzes down the mountain blasting a trumpet. He returns to the crowd. He passes out toys. He sings with them. He joins the feast because he has discovered the joy in the noise of the crowd.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Think about your relationship with technology. Are you a hyper-connected technophile? Are you a luddite? Do you need to learn to slip away from technology to pray? Or do you need to discover the joy in the noise of the crowd?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, let me have the same mindset as your son Jesus Christ. He did not use his power to his own advantage, but poured himself out in humble service to others. Teach me that kind of humility and service.
Teach me also to lead a quiet life. Help me retreat regularly from the noise of the world, from too much work, from too many social events, from excessive entertainment, from smart phones that deliver the crowd constantly into my pocket. And after I retreat to you, Lord, help me return to the crowd with the ability to hear its joy. Amen.