Forswunk

I came across a new word on Twitter the other day, and now I am trying to use it as much as I can. The word is forswunk. It harkens back to the 13th century and it means to be exhausted from overwork. Holy cow, people! There is a NAME FOR IT. Raise your hand if you are forswunk! The poster went on to make a marvelous joke: being ”forEswunk” is to be exhausted before you even begin. I don’t know who Susie Dent is, but this got an immediate follow from me. She is my soul sister when it comes to having fun with words.

I have been both for- and fore-swunk. The recent push to publish a book, writing these devotionals, plugging away on a huge writing assignment for Cokesbury, attending my alma mater’s Alumni Association Council meetings for several days in Pennsylvania … in addition to my usual church and family responsibilities …I am forswunk! How about you? Are you forswunk? And as Halloween approaches in two days, are you realizing how quickly Christmas follows … so now you are feeling foreswunk as well?

What can we do when forswunkness overtakes us??

Stop.

Breathe.

Reevaluate.

Prioritize.

Then take things OFF our lists.

Jesus never used the word, but he certainly understood what it was like to be exhausted by overwork. Here is his counsel for you and for me:

Matthew 11 (New Revised Standard Version)

28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Come to Jesus. Lay down your burden, lay your head in his lap, and rest. When he invites us to take his yoke rather than the heavy burden we are carrying, it is a reference to how a young ox is paired with older, stronger, more experienced ox. The older ox carries the weight of the yoke and guides the younger ox along. It is only in Jesus that we will find rest for our souls.

Are you tired? Have life, relationships, work, worries, and the troubles of the world got you down? You are not alone. Jesus longs to walk beside you and carry that load for you.

You don’t have to stay forswunk. Jesus is able! Just come.

If you are looking for a way to stave off foreswunkness as your mind turns toward the busy-ness of Christmas, consider this Advent devotional resource. It was deliberately written to encourage all of us to slow down, minimize, re-focus, and appreciate Christmas for what it is … the greatest gift we could ever receive.

Excerpt from ADVENTuring to the Manger:

I wonder what Christmas would look like if we had kept it as just a birthday party for Jesus, instead of the giftpalooza-partypalooza-spendtoomuchpalooza-shoptilyoudroppalooza that it has become. Imagine it: we would wake up, talk about how wonderful Jesus is, plan a nice meal, bake a birthday cake, have the celebration, blow out the candles, and call it a day. And it would truly be just about him. How can we make Christmas just about Jesus again?

But for today, stop, breathe, reevaluate, and prioritize. Jesus’ yoke is easy and light. Come!

Stopping to Rest by Michelle Robertson

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Do you have a fear or a phobia? I think most of us do. I am VERY claustrophobic, and the fear of being trapped in a small space absolutely wigs me out. A friend shared her fear of bridges with me recently, and told me an amazing story.

The first time that driving over a bridge was a issue for her was a trip she made with her 12 month old child. Bridges weren’t a problem until the moment that they were. She experienced her first panic attack about two minutes into a long two-lane bridge. No turning around, no turning back. Part of the physical manifestation of the attack was a feeling of numbness in her arms and legs, making her fearful of losing control of the car. She began to say the Lord’s Prayer.

She made it over the bridge and stopped at a gas station. Because of the geography of the Outer Banks, there were only two choices: go back over the bridge she had just crossed, or go ahead….to another bridge.

There was a car full of ladies at the gas station. In a moment of desperation, she approached them and explained what had just happened. She asked if one of them would kindly get in her car with her and drive over the next bridge. Their immediate response? “Of course!”

Unforced grace.

Grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. Grace freely offered by angels in t-shirts and shorts, helping a complete stranger at a gas station.

Matthew 11 is a reminder of what to do and to whom we can turn when we are tired, scared, overwhelmed, and need God to help us recover from a situation:

Matthew 11 (The Message)

27 Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

Jesus invites us to come to him and listen as he explains God’s grace, line by line. We are called to get away from all of life’s anxiety and take a real rest. When we do, we learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

28-30 “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.”

I bet there are people in your life, like those ladies at the gas station, who can help you with the things you are dealing with that are heavy and ill-fitting. You just have to ask.

I KNOW that walking with Jesus is how we live freely and lightly. You just have to walk.

Maybe he is even calling YOU to be the angel in t-shirt and shorts for someone today. You just have to listen.

Come away with Jesus, and dwell in his unforced rhythms of love, joy, peace, gratitude, and especially grace. He just might send you an angel, too.

Bridges Everywhere by Bev Mineo