Have you ever had a problem with an appliance you use all the time?
Right now, that’s Alyssa’s dishwasher. The door handle is broken and only one setting works: light wash. This was discovered this after running a full and heavy-wash load on extra-hot steam dry. It ran hot, without water. You can imagine the outcome. It wasn’t pretty!
If the issue had been recognized sooner, she would have stopped the cycle immediately. She wasn’t expecting or looking for a problem. The cycle was trusted to work. It had been working properly up until that wash cycle. Normal settings always work, right?!
It’s one thing to experience the aftermath of a failed dishwasher setting, but this story speaks to something more significant (and potentially more costly). We’re talking about the settings and cycles of life — settings you expect to work the same way every time, but settings that may actually be working against you.
Whether you know it or not, you place a lot of implicit trust in the cycles that shape your life. These cycles have been developed over time. They’re familiar. Trusted. Your default established from habits, experiences, and relationships over time.
These patterns are so comfortable and familiar, that you accept them as normal. They’re well worn pathways in your mind and life. Habits. Practices. Words. If you stop to think about it, you can see them in how you live every day.
Default patterns are present in the way you approach everything, from projects to relationships. Do any of these default patterns sound familiar?
You plan things, but never stick to the schedule.
You snooze. A lot.
You’re always late, but it’s rarely your fault.
You’re easy to get along with because you avoid conflict at all costs!
You have an open-door policy and are constantly frustrated by what doesn’t get done.
You binge watch too late, too often and are running on empty instead of on energy.
You take on other people’s problems, as if they were yours to fix.
You’re so task oriented that you forget to have fun.
You overthink every conversation.
You overcommit, so you’re constantly stressed.
You talk about taking care of yourself, but you are your last priority.
These default patterns repeat. They cycle through our days and our lives, and can keep us going in circles. Literally. It’s easy to gloss over their impact with phrases like, “that’s just the way it is,” or “it runs in the family,” or “I can’t catch a break,” or “it’s just the story of my life.” But none of these keep the default from becoming defective.
In Matthew 11, Jesus gives us a way to identify cycles that aren’t working. In fact, He’s specific about identifying broken cycles. These are cycles that work against us. Cycles that need to stop.
Jesus introduces the problem by asking questions. These questions about being tired, worn out, fatigued, even burned out on life and religion are getting to something important. He’s speaking about issues in life that deplete life — issues from default cycles that go wrong because they go unchecked.
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) records the conversation this way.
“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 our defaults get defunct, things get messy!
Words like tired, worn out, and burned out become part of our vocabulary and part of our the way we experience life. We work, but there’s no real rest in the process. Instead of living free and light, we grind. We’re driving forward on fumes.
Jesus knows the struggle, and He invites us into a new cycle.
It’s called the unforced rhythms of grace.
Unforced rhythms of grace aren’t about humming in your sweet spot or finding the perfect career path. Those are good. But this invitation is better. More personal.
The unforced rhythms of grace are a new cycle that begins in relationship with God. No application required. No interview. No extra work. No long, labor-intensive hours.
If Jesus were with you right now, He might make this invitation to a new cycle after asking you about a few things. Perhaps He would ask how you feel after so much scrolling on social media. He might ask about your schedule and the busyness of trying to meet the needs of everyone. Maybe He’d ask how it feels to spend so much time carrying the weight of self-doubt and worry.
How would you answer? Would you use words like tired, worn out, and burned out? Would you feel the weight of the worry as you tried to answer with poise and confidence, only to have the response come through in rationale, apology, and even tears?
If Jesus were with you right now, He’d invite you to power down your devices, turn off the binge-worthy show, and listen.
You might hear solutions for a confusing situation. You might find in the midst of your frustrations or in your place of weakness and uncertainty. He might give you insight into a difficult situation or bring order to your priorities. Maybe you need confidence to make the next right decision. Or wisdom on how to create a necessary ending.
In the quietness of His company, Jesus becomes a part of your life. As part of your life, He takes your burdens and gives you His ability to walk lightly and freely in everyday life. What an exchange!
Jesus is an expert at bearing burdens. He’s also an expert at giving us something new in return. In fact, in Isaiah 43:19 (TPT) we learn that His new cycles are not limited by the conditions of our life.
I am doing something brand new, something unheard of.
Even now it sprouts and grows and matures. Don’t you perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness, and open up flowing streams in the desert.
When Jesus gives us something new, it’s fully new. Unheard of new. Streams-in-the-desert new.
So what are you waiting for?!
To experience life from within the unforced rhythms of grace is an open invitation. Jesus is waiting for you to accept your place in His company. To let Him lift what you’ve been carrying for too long.
You may be thinking, I know I’m not there yet, but I want to be! We know that feeling too.
Living in these unforced rhythms as your new default isn’t complicated, but it is intentional.
The choice is yours. It’s a choice to step out of your comfortable and familiar cycles into a new space with God. A new default cycle.
Since the first step always seems to be the hardest, let’s do it right now.
Open your Bible (or the YouVersion Bible App) to Matthew 11. We love The Passion Translation (TPT), but also enjoy New Living Translation (NLT) and the New International Version (NIV).
Start reading at the beginning of the chapter. This is how you build your relationship with Jesus — you read, listen, and learn His ways from the Word. It’s also where you discover the next step for fully embracing His new cycle for your life.
Cheers to you, your new normal, and to building life well, together!