I well-remember the exhaustion I felt as a mother of two pre-school daughters, working full-time for a large corporation. There were numerous occasions when I wouldn’t even hear my night-owl husband, Ray, gently close our bedroom door as he crept out after we’d said our prayers. I could have been featured on a sleep clinic commercial, along with the old adage, “asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.”
A few fleeting years later, emotional weariness joined my physical fatigue. My beloved spouse died unexpectedly, felled by a fatal heart attack weeks after his 39th birthday. Suddenly left alone to parent my daughters (7 and 10 years old at the time), I clung to God for daily strength. Above all else, I prayed for wisdom. And I repeatedly petitioned Him to let me live long enough to raise my girls. Unbearable thoughts of them being orphaned fueled my pleas.*
Nonetheless, some nights found me too worn-out to formulate a coherent prayer. In the brief moments between crawling under the covers and drifting off to sleep, I counted on the Spirit’s knowing my unspoken needs and interceding for me with groans too deep for words. (Romans 8:26-27) Furthermore, I imagined myself in my Father’s lap, wrapped in His loving arms. “Please, Lord, just hold me. I’m so tired.”
Though I’m often reminded this world is not my home, I’ve been acutely aware of the ever-present brokenness in my not-Home in recent days – from malfunctioning printer technology to discord in cherished relationships, from self-doubt to minor frustrations to major misunderstandings. I’ve grieved my own short-comings and been disappointed by those of others. Day after day, my heart has cried out to the Lord for relief and restoration, longing for peace and beauty and the promised perfecting of all things.
Jesus bids us come. All who are weary and burdened. He promises us rest. Not just any rest, but rest for our souls. (Matthew 11:28-29) Our gentle Savior took on flesh and walked this world. (John 1:14) He knows how difficult it is, how fear and anxiety and hopelessness can produce tired, troubled souls. Not only does He invite us to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him, but He:
- Promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- Invites us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
- Tells us not to be anxious, but to bring our prayers and petitions to Him. (Philippians 4:6-7)
- Advises us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Instructs us to fear not. Though we will have troubles in this world, He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
- Reminds us He is preparing a place for us and will return to take us Home. (John 14:2-3)
Throughout these difficult days, I’ve felt God’s comforting presence. His tender ministrations have manifested themselves in ways as varied as my heartaches:
- A blog post from a fellow writer which provided encouragement to keep writing and bolstered my diminished confidence.
- A phone call from my daughter who listened patiently to my sob-punctuated litany of sorrows which burst forth upon hearing her concerned, “Are you ok, Mom?”
- Lunch with a long-time spiritual sister whose wisdom and calm presence I cherish, one who helps me regain a proper perspective.
- An extended phone conversation with my other daughter, who I see at least twice weekly but rarely have time to chat with because of the three little ones clamoring for our attention.
And then there was Saturday, beautiful, soul-satisfying Saturday, spent in my garden. When I went out to water my thirsty plants, God bestowed upon me a tiny glimpse of the way it will be in His Garden. As sunlight filtered through the floriferous branches of my crape myrtle, sights and sounds of early-morning re-awakening greeted me. Two glistening gold finches balanced atop gently-swaying stalks of verbena, expertly extracting the tasty seed. All kinds of busy pollinators buzzed in and out of colorful blossoms. A bejeweled hummingbird hovered near the lantana. Butterflies zig-zagged lazily in the breeze. Birds chirped and frolicked in the sprinkler spray. My heart exulted.
One day the children of God will be revealed. The groaning will stop and all things will be made new. (Romans 8:18-21; Revelation 21:4)) Until then, may our world-weary souls find rest in Him and may we have eyes to see and ears to hear the evidence of His lavish love all around us. (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17)
*God not only graciously granted that prayer, but I’m now Grammie to three precious grandchildren.