It was less than a week before Christmas, and I was back at the church I grew up in with my family, sitting in very nearly the same pew we have sat in for perhaps 22 years (there was a Great Shift Backwards a few years back, when the youth group kids decided they wanted to be able to sit in the second and third pew on the right side, but the fourth pew feels just about natural by now).
We’d finished the music and the pastor stood up and said something that indicated that we should bow our heads and confess our sins silently for 30 seconds before we continued with the service. I dutifully inclined my head, closed my eyes, and tried to empty my mind of all but the many mistakes I’ve made in the last week.
“Lord God,” I mentally intoned, “I know I am a sinner in need of your grace. This week, I have been so tired and selfish…”
“Amen.” The pastor assertively ended the time of confession and was already moving into his pre-sermon thoughts as I lifted my head, blinked my eyes in the light and realized I had just confessed something that wasn’t a sin.
Being tired isn’t a sin.
I giggled a little at my inner Pharisee, confessing things that even God doesn’t condemn, before pulling out my Bible and focusing on the sermon. It was a lovely service, full of Christmas songs, old friends, and familiar traditions.
But my small confession kept popping up in my thoughts throughout the day until, as I lay in bed that night, I considered why I had felt the need to confess that I was tired, of all things. I certainly commit enough real sins that I wasn’t searching for something to confess to God. I don’t think God is unaware of my state of being and it wasn’t something I was asking for help with, and I was actually just beginning a two week vacation during which I would hopefully, finally, catch up on sleep.
Why did being tired feel like a sin?
Almost as soon as I had considered it, scripture began to flood my mind:
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
Being tired may not be a sin, but trusting in my plans and my work to give me rest is.
And yet, I find, I do not know how to trust anything else.
It’s my year of abiding and something about that seems to imply rest and trust in a Home That I Have Not Built.
This is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. It is hard to see surrender as holy work instead of laziness, to see trust as wise instead of as folly.
In some sense, rest is not only promised but demanded of me, because apart from trusting God I will not allow myself rest.
The Gospel is not a Try-Hard message. It is a promise of wholeness and a mandate for wholeness. Sometimes, I trust the mandate but not the promise. Sometimes I don’t trust either one.
Being tired is not a sin, but not believing in rest might just be.
So today, I confess that I am tired and I do not trust that there is rest in Him.
It’s a start.
Photo by Anselme Servain, via flickr.