Ash Wednesday: Unforced Rhythms of Grace

What are the unforced rhythms of grace? Is it possible to learn them in 2019?

Eugene Peterson did a marvelous job with his interpretation of the Bible through the Message. In a few sections particularly, I believe he captured the essence of Jesus’ teaching, and the truest meaning of the Greek text, perhaps more than any other biblical scholar. Matt 11:28-30 is one of those sections.

“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.”

 Throughout Lent this year I’ll be looking at Jesus’ teachings and promises around rest. To kick it off this Ash Wednesday, the “unforced rhythms of grace,” statement of Jesus stands out. So what are the unforced rhythms of grace and how might we learn them?

I believe the unforced rhythms are the rhythms that keep us in tune to ourselves and God. The once atheist turned follower of Jesus CS Lewis wrote, “The first job each morning consists in shoving [all other voices] all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” As we consider the unforced rhythms of grace, we are wise to ask ourselves if we are doing this on a consistent basis. Are we “shoving back…letting the quieter life come flowing in?” It’s not easy with the demands of the day, but the alternative is to keep living the opposite. Perhaps we call it the forced rhythms of antonyms of grace: disfavor, deformity, unkindness, pride, works.

As hard as it can be to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, it is comforting to remember that it is the way of Jesus. It is what he modeled when he walked the earth. His teaching have a way of keeping us grounded in the rhythms of grace that we were designed for. As we consider the unforced rhythms of grace, it is not so much a new learning, as it is a returning to that which we were created for.

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