Invitation to Rest

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Soul Balance

Do you ever feel out of balance? The pace of life, constant demands for your attention, and the 24/7 information overload can keep us off balance and searching for something more. This can happen even when we immerse ourselves in doing good things. 

John Ortberg, in his book, Soul Keeping, gives a great illustration of how to keep our souls in balance.  He uses an illustration called the Cycle of Grace, which came from the research of Christian psychiatrist Frank Lake who treated missionaries who experienced burnout in ministry.  The cycle was developed by examining the life of Jesus and how He was able to accomplish so much yet we don’t see Him burned out or out of balance.  How did He do this? Here is a brief description of the 4 steps in the Cycle of Grace:

1. Acceptance
Jesus knew his identity. It was not in what he did, it was in who He was, a beloved child of God. Accepting our identity and the love of the Father must precede everything else.
2. Sustenance
Jesus experienced his identity by partaking in various habits or practices that refreshed His soul and affirmed who He was as a child of God. Often Jesus in the midst of ministry would withdraw and rest. He surrounded himself with a close group of friends, he prayed, worshiped and celebrated life.
3. Significance
We were born with a need for significance. As we accept our identity and sustain ourselves with the grace of God, we lay the proper foundation for significance. Our significance begins with knowing who we are before we determine what we are to do.
4. Achievement
Achievement is a good thing! Jesus achieved a lot! From the beginning God called us to be fruitful and multiply. This type of achievement springs from a life surrendered and resting in Jesus. It is after called the fruit of the spirit. We do not grow the fruit, but it is the Spirit of God living in and through us.
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When we follow the cycle of grace we begin to experience a soul that is in balance.  We start with acceptance and end with achievement

I don’t know about you, but when I look at these 4 steps, I often get them backwards. I put all of my attention on achievement.  We live in a culture where we are praised by what we do.   If I achieve enough, then maybe I will gain significance. If I feel significance, that will help sustain me as I go through life.  At the end of the day I ultimately am hoping for acceptance. Isn’t that so true.  The cry of the heart is to be loved and accepted and yet we run in reverse order to try to gain acceptance through our own efforts and achievements.  When we do this, we follow the cycle of works.

The Cycle of Grace is a wonderful tool to help us find the right balance for our souls. If you feel out of balance, focus on being and let your doing flow from grace of God in your life.  Acceptance is a big first step because for many of us we need to accept and give ourselves permission to receive grace.  Breaking the work cycle won’t come easily, but now e know our pattern and steps we can take to reverse to a grace filled, soul balanced life.  Peace be with you.

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