One of my favorite writers is Eric Metaxas. He now writes on “the Breakpoint” blog. He made reference to a series on the New York Times blog site concerning anxiety, which has become for many not a disorder, but a part of the human condition. This anxiety is like an angst, “a kind of dread that comes from the suspicion that life, as we presently live it, doesn’t make sense.” One recent post discussed busyness not due simply to ambition and drive, but rather a “dread [0f] what might have to be face in its absence.” Busyness then becomes a kind of existential reassurance and a hedge against emptiness. This busyness is self-imposed, by people who “feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.”
When I read these comments I immediately went in my mind to Jesus words in Matt 11: 28-30 from the Message. “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.” When I mediate on this passage, I imagine having a center for my life. Jesus is my “existential reassurance and a hedge against emptiness.” With Jesus at the center, I will find real rest, while experiencing “the unforced rhythms of grace.” He is the still center in the midst of my active life.
Finding my center means knowing that at the deepest place within me, beyond my understanding and experience, Jesus abides there. He is my center. Jesus promised, “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). Paul express it as “this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). I John 3:24 give us the assurance with these words, “And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” Because of this reality John goes on to say, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4:4). So men in the midst of all your craziness and the demands on your life there is a still, strong center. It is Jesus. He is your rock, your fortress, you shelter in the storm. You are not empty, but full. Think of it – He waits for you at the center. Don’t neglect his voice.
So our task each day is to learn to live from the center. I believe that God is calling a new generation of men to live “soulful lives.” Richard Rohr puts it nicely when he observes, “We are circumference people, will little access to the center. We live on the boundaries of our own lives….confusing edges with essence, too quickly claiming the superficial as substance” A soulful man know that he has a center as he learn to give attention to this ultimate reality within him. He knows that at the core he can be at home, finding real rest. It is from this place within, that he find the courage, strength and wisdom to arrange his priorities according to the one who has called him to given himself to something bigger then himself, learning to respond to his calling from God.
Rohr goes on to say that we do not find our center, it finds us. “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking – the journey around and through our realities (circumstances) lead us to the core reality where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.” We begin as Jesus promised to recover our life. Jesus invites us to walk with him and work with him. Then remember this promise from Jesus, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” There is a lifestyle to be envied by anyone suffering from angst.