I don’t know about you, but lately for me the going has been tough. I know that everyone’s life is full of tough times off and on, but for me it has felt extra tough lately. And by lately I mean…you know what, I can’t really pinpoint when that started. It’s been a long time. Still the last six months have been very, very hard, and it’s not just one thing. I won’t bore you with a laundry list of gut punches. However, I had another one of those gut punches this morning.
Taken in isolation I feel that I could face this new development, if not with ease, then at least with some confidence that it will all work out. But I haven’t recovered from the gut punch I had on Saturday yet. Or the gut punch I had on Friday. Or – well, you get the idea. It’s usually not the first bad news or problem that stops you cold, it’s the 7th or, as Jesus said, the 70 X 7th (so many it’s hard to keep an accurate count, so don’t even bother.) Yes, I know that Jesus was talking about how many times we should forgive someone, but if we aren’t supposed to forgive those who gut punch us, then I don’t know what.
But what do we do when it’s Jesus that stops us cold by saying something so hard that it feels like a gut punch? He didn’t only tell us to keep forgiving until you lose count of how many times and then forgive again. He also said to sell everything you own and give to the poor. He said to love your enemies and pray for them (and folks, he didn’t mean to pray that your enemies finally get what they deserve.)
Jesus said some hard things and there were times that some of his followers gave up and stopped following. It was just too hard. One day a bunch of people finally decided that it was too hard and walked away from Jesus. John 6:67-68 puts it, “So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life…'”
Notice Peter didn’t say that Jesus wasn’t asking them to do anything all that hard. He didn’t say that it hadn’t occurred to any of them that maybe they should give up and walk away. He said, “Lord, you have what we need. We may not fully understand it. We may struggle to get there, but no one else can show how or where or why the way you can.” Okay, that’s my paraphrase, but I think it comes close to what Peter was trying to express.
When Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey wrote “Take It Easy” they weren’t really talking about their spiritual lives, EXCEPT that our secular lives and spiritual lives aren’t really separate. Everything is part of our spiritual lives, even the stuff that doesn’t seem all that spiritual or maybe even a little nasty. Take a look at these lyrics. I think there is a word for us today.
“Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy”
Calm down and don’t go crazy. Take some deep breaths. Take it easy. Find a place to make your stand and take it easy.