When You’re Rushed Off Your Feet

I have a strange affinity for a BBC show called East Enders. It was one of my mother’s favorite programs, and that somehow rubbed off on me. East Enders is set in a culturally diverse working class neighborhood in the East End of London. Common locations on the show include the local pub, the open-air market, the launderette, and the mini-mart. Characters work long, hard hours in these places, and a common expression when they get too busy at work is “I was rushed off my feet.”

Friends, the entire Outer Banks is rushed off their feet right now and everyone is TIRED. The easing of pandemic restrictions right at the beginning of our summer season brought us very long shifts and very little down time. On top of that is a state-wide worker shortage that has taken its toll on local business owners. October never looked so good.

I have been visiting with my two daughters this week and they, too, are rushed off their feet. One has an active 22-month old, and the other has a 6-year-old boy and 4-year-old twins. Watching them in the daily practice of motherhood is exhausting!

Jesus and the apostles were in the same boat one time when they were tired and needed a break. Or at least they tried to take a break…

Mark 6 (The Message)

30-31 The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.

32-34 So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them.

I feel for our Lord and his friends! Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. I have friends who own a restaurant and this is exactly what Sunday brunch feels like to them. When they first opened, they invited me to do a blessing of their business. I promised to pray for them every Sunday as I drove past their building on my way to church. One summer Sunday, after a nerve-wracking, record-breaking Sunday brunch service, they jokingly asked me if I could skip praying for them for a week….they were rushed off their feet!

When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.

But when you love what you do and the people you do it with (and for), you just drop your chin to your chest and press on.

Jesus’ compassion for his sheep was tremendous. But remember this….Jesus is the Messiah, and you are not. When life presses in too hard, come off by yourself and be quiet for a moment. Take a break. Even if it is just in the car during your commute, or those few moments in the morning before the first child awakes. Rest is as much an attitude as it is a cessation of work, so grab a few moments of peace when you can.

Eventually, the season turns into winter and the crowds go home. Eventually, the little ones become adults and leave the house. Eventually, you age out of your profession and retire. Until then, take a deep breath and enjoy a moment of gratitude for life as it is in this moment. You will never pass this way again.

In the Moment by Michelle Robertson

It was Good

To return to the very beginning of scripture and the first moment of time is a jolt in the midst of so much civil unrest and a global pandemic. Perhaps that is the best reason to do it today. When everything around you seems to be crashing in, it helps to remember that God’s plan was that all the things he created would be good, and when we return to the Eden of his making, it will be good again. It’s just this stuff in the meantime that can be so challenging and exhausting.

So let us remember how we started.

Genesis 1 (Contemporary English Version)

 In the beginning God
created the heavens
    and the earth.
The earth was barren,
    with no form of life;
it was under a roaring ocean
    covered with darkness.
But the Spirit of God
    was moving over the water.

Imagine the earth in its barren state. That is a hard image to conjure up. I live in a community that was developed in the ‘60’s by dredging out canals and then slowly building houses on the fingers of land that remained. When we spot old photos of Colington Island, it is amazing to see how pristine it all was, and then experience it now in its fully built-out state. While it is still quite beautiful, Colington has certainly changed since it was chartered in the late 1600’s.

In the beginning, it was good.

God said, “I command light to shine!” And light started shining. God looked at the light and saw that it was good. He separated light from darkness and named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” Evening came and then morning—that was the first day.

The creation narrative continues through each day with plants, animals, and eventually humans being added. Each time, God stops and declares the day’s work to be “good.”

When was the last time you completed a day’s work and declared it to be good? I can’t ever remember going to bed with a feeling that I had actually finished something, much less declared it to be good. That is the nature of life. That is the nature of ministry. It is messy. It can be unforgiving. And it is always filled with unfinished business. Things get moved from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s to-do list and so forth and so on. If we were honest, we would write out a to-don’t list and call it a day.

I don’t think God wants us to feel this way. I think Genesis is written to teach us about the work-sabbath relationship, and to set an example of working hard, realizing the value of your day’s effort, marking it good, and then ending the week with an appropriate sabbath rest.

Genesis 2

 1 So the heavens and the earth and everything else were created.

By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested. God blessed the seventh day and made it special because on that day he rested from his work.

Maybe there is a connection here. When was the last time you had a bonafide, honest to GOODness rest? When have you fully and completely allowed yourself a day of sabbath, with no work, no chores, no projects, no running errands….have you ever?

God’s work ended with a full day of rest. This was after six days of creating the entire known world.

Take a break, people. If the creator of the universe can carve out a day of downtime, so can you.

And THAT will be good.

It’s All Good by Michelle Robertson

Second Wind

Have you ever had a never-ending week that turned into a never-ending weekend that suddenly became the middle of the next week, and you had not yet come up for air? And then it became a month, then a year, then a life of never ending-ness? I think this is why God created the second wind. Were it not for our ability to catch a second wind, we would have all burned out decades ago.

So let’s talk about second winds for a second. (See what I did there?) According to Grammerist.com, a second wind is defined as:

A second wind is a renewed sense of vigor after becoming fatigued, a fresh conviction that one is able to achieve one’s goal, a burst of energy following exhaustion. The word wind, in this case, refers to breath. The idea is that one becomes fatigued and is out of breath, and then becomes reinvigorated and catches one’s breath. The term second wind may be used to mean a burst of energy after one becomes physically fatigued, or it may mean a burst of energy when one is mentally or spiritually fatigued. The term second wind was first used in the 1830s, to mean a renewed sense of vigor when one has become tired from physical exertion.

I love the fact that this definition mentions becoming spiritually fatigued. Spiritual fatigue can happen just like any other fatigue. When we push hard at something, even the rewarding task of spiritual development, worship, sharing the good news with others, trying to be a light in the darkness, or just getting through the day without punching somebody in the throat, exhaustion can happen.

We are living in a time when hate, anger, hostility, rudeness, and viral vomiting are the norm. These things hurt our spirit. These things exhaust our souls. It is exhausting to be the light when people feel the freedom to bash, criticize, condemn, and bully others on every social media platform, news program, and radio show that we turn on. We are surrounded by a cacophony of negative noise that makes in impossible to hear anything good or wholesome. And that wears us out.

Are you worn out? Need a second wind?

I think there are two things to keep in mind when your will to go forward goes backward and you just want to sit down and stop.

First, sit down and stop. The whole reason God created the sabbath is so that we would stop everything and have a sabbath rest. Some days you just need a day of disconnected, unplugged solitude in order to recharge. Pushing when you have absolutely nothing left in your tank just means your engine will stop anyway, just farther down the road.

Second, consider what Paul says about second winds:

Hebrews 12 The Message (MSG)

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

When you see yourself flagging in your faith, take a breath, stop to rest, wait for the second breath to come, and remember why you are doing this. Remember what Jesus plowed through. Remember the story, every step of the way, and how Jesus plowed through all the hate, anger, and hostility that he had to overcome.

YOU are the light of the world. YOU are the salt of the earth. You got this.

Take a breath, and then a second breath, recharge, and get back in the race. And keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we are running. God is at the finish line, so breathe.

Just breathe.

Resting Sun by Steve Hanf.