(Editor's note: Our newest columnist, Bonnie Lyn Smith, is a longtime resident of the Merrimack Valley. She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God's Purpose in Each New Day and a blogger at Espressos of Faith.)
This past week, I came crashing into Thursday morning. Ever have one of those days/weeks/years? We’d experienced a few days of inflexibility, stress, and angst. There were a lot of extra appointments and assessments going on for one of my children, and the red flag of “I’ve had enough, Mom!” was going up.
And it’s not that I didn’t see it.
It’s that I didn’t want to. It was inconvenient. I was tired of setting things down for it. I was weary of red flags popping up everywhere, even though they are God-given safety measures I am truly thankful for most days.
As it turns out, when I failed to step up to the plate, my child knew what he needed without me.
With the older siblings on their buses, we were just about to scramble through breakfast and getting dressed to maybe make the early arrival program on time. I was already picturing the work I needed to do after drop-off. I was almost giddy with the relief it would bring to have the morning routine complete.
And there he sat on the couch: one puppy on his lap, the other by his face, under an afghan, reading a good book.
No arguing this morning. No rigidity. Just chill.
And that’s when I heard this verse come over me. It wasn’t the first time, and it likely won’t be the last, but it stopped me right in my tracks.
Matthew 11:28-30, ESV, Jesus speaking
“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.”
My child knew what he needed. I strongly believe that he listened to the wisdom of this verse before I did. Children often hear God before we do.
Certainly, most days, we can’t blow off our schedules and indulge in endless leisure, ignoring our responsibilities, but rest is built into what we need. Today, my child needed to skip the early program—and I needed to get over myself and let him. How often do we ride the tidal waves of life wondering when we get to stop beating at the surf in a frantic dog paddle and heave our life-beaten selves upon the spongy shore?
My child knew where to find that shoreline. He knew where the burden could be light.
So I ask you, me, all of us:
Where might your hearts be weary?
Where do you feel you have no shoreline under your feet?
If it’s a difficult season of life right now, are you giving yourself permission to take safe harbor now and again—not forgetting the storm—but choosing to rest in the midst of it?
I think we forget that the storm continues with or without us. We are afraid to be swallowed by it, so we stand our ground staring at it, waiting for it to pass. Some storms are seasonal. Some are lifelong struggles. If we forever stand vigilant
, we will wear ourselves too thin and be tossed about at sea.
Do you know the One Who quiets the storms?
Mark 4:35-41, ESV, Apostle John-Mark narrating
On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
He is offering us rest and a safe shoreline. We can take our wearied hearts to Him, lay them down, and receive His great rest. We can trade in our striving, hypervigilant yoke for His easy and light one.
Doesn’t rest for our souls sound inviting? He is gentle when so many around us are not.
The Matthew 11:28-30 verses were painted on the front wall of my childhood church. I read them sideways as I fell asleep on my father’s lap every Sunday.
Those verses spoke to my heart on a wretched night on a cold, stone bench facing a taunting, angry sea on a faraway island when I could find no refuge from my own personal storm.
And those verses keep beckoning me home, to my Father’s shoreline, where His incredible Son was both worshipped (Palm Sunday) and crucified (Good Friday) in the same week because He loves us that much. Because of the resurrection, He beckons us to come to His already-paid-for peace, where that which is not peace has been defeated on the cross.
As we approach Holy Week, won’t you consider where your heart needs rest? Jesus was willing to die so that you could come to Him directly, with complete abandon, and pull your heart up onto His forever shore.
Whatever storms you face, please know your heart is very safe there. He loves you eternally.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.
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