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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

“Caught In The Spin Cycle”

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:25-30

I’m sure you know what a spin cycle is. You have one on your washing machine. After your clothes have been tumbled and tossed around, lifted up and pushed down and turned inside out, the machine stops for a few seconds, and then goes into the spin cycle “to extract water from the clothes by centrifugal force of swift rotation.” (Webster) In other words, it goes around and around, faster and faster, until it’s squashed against the wall of the spinning drum so hard the water’s pushed right out of it. And the clothes are half dried out. That’s the spin cycle.

Spin Cycle: Off to work, with a dozen projects to do at home; paying bills, and maybe juggling money; helping kids with homework, and they don’t teach it like we learned it; if you aren’t sick, some one else is, and you’re sick and tired of being sick; something in the house isn’t working right; company’s coming, and your house is a mess; you wake up thinking about all the things you have to do tomorrow; and add your own list; stop the world, I wanna get off! That’s living in the spin cycle.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I’m caught in a spin cycle. Actually, I do know about many of you. And for us, Jesus’ words are certainly welcome: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Now that’s good news for overloaded souls!

Just outside of my hometown of Marquette, Michigan is Sugar Loaf Mountain. The view of Lake Superior from the top is beautiful, so it’s a real popular mountain to climb. To make the climbing easier they put stair steps on the steeper parts – and every so often there’s a bench to sit on and rest.

That should be one of the functions of our worship times – to rest and find refreshment, when we let our hearts slow down a little.

We should be glad to hear Jesus’ words for today: “I will give you rest.” These are beautiful words!

First of all, Jesus is telling us to have some balance in our lives: “I will give you rest,” Jesus says. He doesn’t mean for us to be frantically on the go all the time – even when we’re serving Him! In the early part of World War I, fighter planes had no slow speeds. So, when Eddie Rickenbacker and the Red Baron were dueling over France, their aircrafts had two power positions: full on and full off! The fact is those early rotary engines didn’t have adjustable throttles. That was a later invention. All they had was an on/off switch. At “contact” the engine roared into full speed, and the plane had better be pointed in the right direction for take-off! From that moment on, the engine was running at full RPMs. Today’s pilots know the danger of running at full throttle. While it’s necessary to get off the ground and clear obstructions, full power will quickly burn out an engine.

And that’s not only true of airplane engines. Human beings were never intended to operate at full throttle all the time either. God didn’t mean for us to be frantically on the go every minute of every day. In fact, Jesus wasn’t on the go all the time! The Bible tells us that He often withdrew for a time apart. Look how much time He spent with His friends. We see in the Gospels that He took time to enjoy the beauties of nature; time to enjoy the laughter of little children; time not only to minister to others but to allow others to minister to Him in various ways.

But how do we find that balance? We find it as Jesus found it. We find it by establishing priorities for our lives. That’s the second thing we need to see. We need to establish priorities.

The Gospels show us that Jesus had a specific, narrowly defined ministry. He didn’t try to do everything. For example, Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt. 15:24) – the Jewish people. He’s the Savior of the whole world, but while He was here on Earth, His time and energy were spent primarily on the Jewish people. While Jesus was on Earth, the Roman Empire boasted 57,000 miles of roads – more than in our interstate highway system. Jesus could have travelled to the Mediterranean world, as Paul later did, and seen Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. People in all those places desperately needed Him, but Jesus stayed within one little piece of the world, mostly within the regions of Judea and Galilee. Even though Jesus had a world to save, He established priorities for His life and for His work – and so should we!

This is the great secret of time management. What are the things that are really important in our lives? Those are the things on which you and I should be devoting the major portion of our time.

The book, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life” says that one of the most basic questions we can ask is, “What would I be doing if I only had six months to live?” Ask yourself that question, and then compare your answer with your current life. The author did ask a group that question, and their answers were revealing. With half a year remaining in their lives, their most common preference was to spend time with their family, look up old friends, travel, read, and write. But very few of them were already doing these things. Asked how their actual lives compared with their six-months-to-live scenario, comments included, “Far from it,” “Totally opposite,” Zilch”, and “Ha!” Some explanations were, “Spend too much of my life trying to succeed” and “Too busy living for tomorrow.” “Young men spend their health in search of wealth. Old men spend their wealth in search of health.”

Some of you will remember me talking about my old school chum, Fred Peterson, who died while I was in Upper Michigan twelve years ago (now 23). Fred had a viral heart disease, and was given about 5 years to live, 4-1/2 years before. What did he do with a theoretical 6 months to live? He had his son and daughter-in-law, who live in London, England come visit in May. In June Fred and his wife went to visit their other son and family in Dallas, Texas – and be there when his second grandchild was born. They flew home on Friday to attend our school reunion Friday evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday afternoon. Tuesday morning, he dropped dead. He had put his priorities in order!

Jesus says to us, “Evaluate your life. Does your schedule reflect your real priorities? Have you included time for play, for rest, for family, for friends, for worship, for spiritual growth? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. Get some balance in your life by setting priorities for your life.

But there’s a third principle here: Yoke yourself to Jesus. This is the secret to setting the right priorities and finding the balance we need. We need to yoke ourselves with Him.

You’ve seen pictures of cattle or oxen yoked together, so that the two of them pull together. Just imagine what your life would be like if you were yoked to Jesus. Some of you might be thinking: “It would be dull!” I wonder?! Jesus was a man who loved life – who loved people – a man who knew how to live life to the fullest. I don’t believe that a life yoked to Him would be dull. Even more important, I suspect that many of our fears, many of our anxieties, many of our frustrations would disappear if our lives were connected to His life.

There may be someone here this morning whose life is in continual turmoil. You somehow can’t get it all together. You’re behind in your work, neglecting your family, your friends, your church, even responsibilities to yourself. It might just be because you have difficulty with personal discipline. Wouldn’t your life be simpler if you were yoked to Jesus?

What our text is calling for is a life that is so focused upon the person of Jesus Christ that His priorities become our priorities. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Of course, the reason His yoke is easy and His burden is light is that He bears the lion’s share of the load of life with us. We’re no longer pulling the cart full of problems and concerns by ourselves. He guides our lives in the way they should go, and then He does most of the pulling!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. Have you been living in a spin cycle? Wouldn’t it help if you found balance in your life? That’s what being yoked to Jesus is all about. Center your life in Him. Let His priorities be your priorities. Let Him shoulder your burdens with you. Trust that He knows how to lead you where you need to go. And you’ll find rest for your souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.


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