I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not exactly grieving the start of school tomorrow. Oh, there are things I dread, packing lunches among them, but for the most part I am thrilled about the return to routine. Summer has worn me out.
I am weary. While I welcome the schedule and structure (and solitude! glorious solitude!) that school will bring, I suspect my weariness stretches beyond the dog days of summer. As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes in his must-read book, Spiritual Depression, “this [tendency to weariness] is what we may call the danger of the middle period. It is something which is true not only in the Christian life as such, it is true of the whole of life.” Speaking specifically of the Christian journey, he says “No longer are we surprised at things, as we were at the beginning, because we are familiar with them and know about them…nothing seems to be happening, there does not seem to be any change or advance or development.”
I’m in the middle period, I think. Not middle-aged necessarily (I hope!), but in the middle period of this stage of life. In parenting, for example, I’ve transitioned from confident zeal to just wanting to survive. I kid, somewhat, about the surviving part. I do want to make it through with minimal damage to all parties involved and sometimes that day to day tension inherent in parenting teenagers and tweenagers is beyond exhausting. Spiritually speaking, my faith has also transitioned from confident zeal to something less than zealously confident.
Lloyd-Jones offers a good word of encouragement (and conviction) to those of us worn out in well doing, who wonder if our perseverance will pay off, who feel lost in the drudgery of the sameness of our lives. Actually, he has much to say in his chapter “Weary in Well Doing” and I will excerpt portions of his thoughts over the next couple of posts. First, he reminds us…
If you and I come to regard any aspect of this Christian life merely as a task and a duty, and if we have to goad ourselves and to set our teeth in order to get through with it, I say we are insulting God and we have forgotten the very essence of Christianity. The Christian life is not a task. The Christian life alone is worthy of the name life. This alone is righteous and holy and pure and good. It is the kind of life the Son of God Himself lived. It is to be like God Himself in His own holiness. That is why I should live it. I do not just decide to make a great effort to carry on somehow. Not at all, I remind myself that is is a great and good life, it is ‘well doing.’ How have I got into this life–this life that I am grumbling and complaining about, and finding hard and difficult? Let me press this question. How did you get into this Christian life? Here we are in the narrow way, how did we come from the broad way? What has made the difference? These are the questions; and there is only one answer. We have come from that to this, because the only begotten Son of God left heaven and came down to earth for our salvation, He divested Himself of all the insignia of His eternal glory and humbled Himself to be born as a babe and to be placed in a manger. He endured the life of this world for thirty-three years: He was spat upon and reviled. He had thorns thrust into His head and was nailed to a cross, to bear the punishment of my sin. That is how I have come from that to this, and if I ever, even for a fraction of a second, question the greatness and the glory and the wonder and the nobility of this walk in which I am engaged, well then I am spitting upon Him. Out upon the suggestion! ‘Be not weary in well doing.’ My friend, if you think of your Christian life is any shape or form with this sense of grudge, or as a wearisome task or duty, I tell you to go back to the beginning of your life, retrace your steps to the wicket gate through which you passed. Look at the world in its evil and sin, look at the hell to which it was leading you, and then look forward and realize that you are set in the midst of the most glorious campaign into which a man could ever enter, and that you are on the noblest road that the world has ever known.
When I am weary, when I wonder how in the world I will find the energy to fight the good fight even one more round, I need to look to Jesus. I need to remember the gospel. I need to hear and heed His invitation in Matt. 11:28, “Come to me all who are labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” This is the good news, the gospel! Jesus Christ saves sinners! May I remember my lost-ness and marvel in the grace and mercy shown to me at the cross where Jesus took my sin and I received His righteousness. The life I now live I live in Him! My weariness dissipates when I embrace the rest He offers, when I rejoice in His saving grace.
Am I weary? I need to remember the gospel!