by:  Cris Corzine-McCloskey

I’m 2 weeks into my social media purge. Every time I get tempted to log in, I take one look at my stressed-out clients and remember why I’m avoiding the insanity. I try to tell them to turn it off, but they won’t hear of it. Some may say I am sticking my head in the sand, but what I am actually doing is positioning my heart to hear from God. One thing I’ve learned over the years, I hear Him best when I’m at rest.

Learning how to be still with the Lord is never easy. Our natures fight against it. One of the ways we fight it is with the nasty, seemingly spiritual, word “should.” It sneaks into our Christian lives like this, “I should read my Bible more, I should pray more, I should…” You can fill in the blank with any number of Christian activities. I call this the Tyranny of the Shoulds.

What makes the shoulds so tyrannical is they come packaged as a list of good things we can use to measure our Christian life. I ought to know, I was the Queen of should-ing all over myself. No matter what I was doing right, it never felt good enough.

That all changed the day I realized Jesus never used the word should with His disciples. Actually, He didn’t talk about their short-comings at all. He just hung out with them, knowing His presence was enough to transform them. I don’t think He’s changed His mind on that method.

What thoroughly convinced me of this was seeing a familiar scripture with a fresh set of eyes. It’s an invitation given by Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear (TPT).”

Jesus said He is gentle, humble, and easy to please. I realized the person I had been yoked up with was not gentle or easy to please. The person I had been yoked up with was me. And I was a cruel taskmaster, striking a whip over myself every time I used the word should.

In the beginning, there were two trees. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil bears a poison fruit called should. And here’s the thing, even if we get really good at hitting all of our shoulds, we are still eating out of the wrong tree. To eat from the Tree of Life, we have to trust God with our spiritual growth by learning to rest in Him.

Jesus calls resting in Him abiding, and He says when we abide in Him, we will bear fruit. Some of that fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. But the main thing abiding produces is life-giving fruit called “want to.” I want to read my Bible because I love learning about Him. I want to be still in His presence because I love hearing His voice.

Right now, the world needs prayer, lots, and lots of prayer. I am not a bit of help if I’m stressed out and should-ing all over myself. But when I’m abiding, and hearing from Him how to pray, I am a force to be reckoned with.

If you are a worn-out Christian, should-ing all over yourself, I challenge you to examine who you are yoked with. I bet you dollars for donuts you are yoked up with you. Now, take that thing off and go sit at the feet of Jesus and see if that should doesn’t become a want to.

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