“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Wired to Work
I’ve often said over the years, “I’m wired to work,” followed quickly by, “I come by it honestly.” Mom and Dad were both hard-working people, as were their parents. I’m not good at resting, at least not if there’s something that needs to be done – and there’s always something that needs doing.
There are times when I’m more accepting of my limitations, times when I can focus on the things I accomplished in a given day, instead of the ones still looming on my never-ending list. Then again, there are periods when the tasks at hand consume both waking hours and those when I should be sleeping. I toss and turn instead, plagued by a sense of inadequacy.
The past year has provided ample opportunities for such middle-of-the-night ruminations. Mom’s decline and passing, helping Dad navigate life without her while dealing with my own grief, the after-effects of Dad’s stroke, taking on more responsibility for the details of his life, running two households. Bind it all together with uncertainty regarding what will happen on a given day, and you’ve got anything but a formula for rest.
At least from a finite human perspective.
Invitation to Rest
The introductory passage from Matthew is one of my favorites. Our gentle, compassionate Savior bids us come to Him for rest, rest for our souls. Though physical rest is essential, rest for our souls is the kind we need most when we get bogged down with worries and cares, waking up in the middle of the night wondering if things will work out or how we’ll ever get it all done.
News flash: we won’t get it all done – even Jesus didn’t do everything – but it will all work out for good (Romans 8:28).
The Apostle Peter extends an invitation similar to that of Jesus: “Cast all your anxieties on him.” Why? “Because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) When I’m awake in the wee hours, I’ll often begin my prayers with, “Lord, I need to cast my cares on You,” and then I proceed to convey all the things that are weighing heavily on my mind. I imagine Him tenderly collecting them. As the burden lifts, I eventually drift back to sleep.
In yet another passage, the Apostle Paul speaks of our need to bring our troubles to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Pockets of Refreshment
I’m blessed to have friends who faithfully pray for me. One such prayer warrior recently texted me: “You are used to an ordered life, and right now things are coming at you so frequently your life feels uncontrolled, and I know that is upsetting. I’m praying that God gives you the strength, the grace, and the wisdom to discern the things that must be done each day. I pray that He gives you pockets of time to regroup and have quiet times.”
Her words were like a soothing balm. Not only did she acknowledge how challenging things have become, but she also assured me she was interceding for me. And she gave me a different perspective, a new concept to ponder, “pockets of time.”
A whole day at home is splendid; a week at the beach would be even better, but I’m finding shorter periods can be restorative, especially if I steward them well. Quiet times to write, work in my garden, or go for a walk allow me to be still in the Lord’s presence, to listen for the Spirit’s comforting reminders of His promises.
I’ve come to think of these times as “pockets of refreshment.”
I don’t know what refreshment looks like for you, dear reader. Maybe you like to curl up with a good book or have lunch with a friend or work in your garden, like me. Regardless, as children of the King, we know true refreshment comes from spending time with Him.
How blessed we are that He invites us to do so!
Dear Lord, thank you for welcoming us into Your presence where we can find rest for our weary souls. Please help us not to be anxious, but to turn to You for peace that passes understanding, peace that can’t be found in the world or ourselves or another person.