Apparently, my wife and I like to stagger our responsibilities. Our eldest child is 12, and our eldest dog is 9 (he turns 10 on Christmas Eve). Our youngest child is 6, and our youngest dog is 2. Despite the obvious pattern, I assure you that this isn’t a baby announcement. Instead, we readily acknowledge that we have reached our limit.
Even so, I often wish that I possessed unlimited capacity. How amazing it would be if I could just keep working through the night, cleaning the house, working on my sermon, or doing one of the million other things that demand attention and fall into the category of “adulting.” But that’s not the way that life works. As human creatures, we have to take care of ourselves by eating well, exercising, and sleeping deeply at regular intervals.
Both science and personal experience teach us that intentional commitment to self care is what powers us through our productive, waking hours each day. At the same time, theology teaches us that our longing for unlimited capacity is really a yearning to be like God. When we imagine ourselves as freed from the human constraint to rest, basking in the knowledge that there would finally be no barriers to our achievement, then we have placed ourselves at the center of the universe.
In a world fully devoted to the never-ending cycle of production and consumption, it is easy for us to slowly drift into the mindset that our worth as individuals and, even, our very salvation revolve around what we have accomplished in our most productive working hours. This Advent, I encourage you to break that cycle by resisting the temptation to speak and act as if we save ourselves. Then, if you can spare a moment, I ask you to gently remind your pastor of the same.
Peace and best wishes,