It seems like everyone I talk to these days is busy. And it doesn't always feel like the "good" busy, but the kind of busy that leads to stress and anxiety. I don't know if that's a seasonal thing, a "race to make up for the last two years" thing, or if it's just the normal way of life in 2022. Maybe all of the above. Either way, I get the sense that there's a good amount of people who feel like they can't keep up with all the activity, all the work hours, and all the extra stuff. Even if it's good stuff, there seems to be a burden on so many shoulders.
I was feeling this way earlier this year. I would actually get frustrated every time I looked at my calendar and didn't see a day without a dot. Even while I was on vacation, I struggled to relax and enjoy the moment because I knew that missing a week of work would put me behind. It was causing me to get frustrated... at people... at the situation... at life. But while I was at the beach, I read through the book of 1 John, and one verse popped out at me. When I read it, I felt like I could truly exhale. This verse helped me in a significant way, and I've shared it with more people than I can count. I keep going back to this verse:
"And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." — 1 John 2:28
This verse is everything.
"Dear children..." Those two words alone are so freeing. They're reminders that you are a dear child to your heavenly Father... reminders that you may be carrying the weight of something you're not even holding. Think of a child trying to help his dad lift a heavy chair. It might wear the child down to use all of his energy and strength trying to lift the chair. But if he would just let go, he'd realize that he was wasting his energy because he wasn't holding the chair to begin with. God cares for us as a dad caring for his children. And he wants you to know that you can let go of the burdens you've been carrying. He's already holding them.
Here's the part of the verse that really hit me: "...continue in him... that we may be confident and unashamed..." There are many burdens that lead to insecurity or shame, but there is only one burden that we must bear, and this burden is light. There is one expectation our father has put on us, and it isn't the expectation to do better or try harder. He hasn't placed on you the burden of getting more things done or accomplishing greater goals. He simply wants you to continue in him. That's it. If we do this one thing, we can be confident and unashamed before our father.
Do you feel guilty as a Christian for not doing enough? Maybe you go to church, help out on a serve team, or put money in the offering plate... but you still feel like you should be doing more? Pause... Take a breath... Continue in him.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the calendar and are afraid of burnout? Pause... breathe... Continue in him.
Do you feel like something about your lifestyle needs to change but you're afraid of telling someone "no" or letting people down? Pause... breathe... Continue in him.
Do you wrestle with doubting the authenticity of your faith? Pause... breathe... Continue in him.
Continue in him — Be close to him. Talk with him. Think about him. Rely on him. Imitate him — When we focus on this as the primary thing, then the other things we were holding as burdens start to fade away. As we continue in him, we start to let go of the chair and trust that he is the one holding everything. We become confident and unashamed. You can hold your shoulders back and your head high knowing that God is smiling down on you. There are no other expectations put on you, but to continue in him.