"|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."
I thought others might benefit from hearing it, so I posted it to face book and went to bed. By morning, over 20 people had taken the time to click "like". Not a huge number by any means, but still an indicator, I think, of how much people are craving rest. Not just a break, not even the physical rest of a stolen nap or a good night's sleep, welcome as they are; but real, refreshing, restorative, renewing, soul-deep rest. A very counter-cultural notion, particularly at this time of year. For most of us, the pace of life is frantic at the best of times; add in a myriad of Christmas-tide activities, events and expectations and it's enough to make me want to sit down and cry! My brothers and sisters, this should not be!
I wended my way to the world's largest mall recently to take advantage of a huge sale in a certain store for a certain beloved man in my life. It looked as if Christmas had exploded all over West Edmonton Mall - beautiful, but so busy! All the colours and lights and decorations and people, all the hustle and bustle and rushing from store to store...It was not a place of rest; just the opposite - it made me tired just watching the crowd! But, after I had accomplished my goal and was waiting to catch my bus, I stumbled upon an oasis in the midst of the crazy.
Now, maybe this isn't your particular idea of rest, but it was amazing to me what good it did my soul just to sit there, taking in the sound of the fountains, the harmony of the colours, the beauty of the place, the juxtaposition of calm and chaotic. And the experience resulted in a desire to create such pockets of peace in my own celebrating of the Season. As much as I love my Saviour, and as fervently as I advocate keeping Christ in Christmas, I have to admit that my focus has been largely commercial and superficial. So it's no surprise that I invariably arrive on the other side of the holidays thoroughly exhausted in body, mind and spirit. I want things to be different this year; I want to relive the waiting and longing and expectant hope of that first Christmas; I want to know the peace and rest and satisfaction of that long-awaited promise finally fulfilled. My hope is that this practice will produce different results by the time I get to the end of 2013; maybe even provide a more rested, peaceful foundation to start off the new year?
Not so very long ago, I went through a time of deep, dark soul-ache, accompanied by extreme weariness. With several very unpleasant possibilities looming in the near future, there were times when it was hard just to keep breathing. Worry and fear as constant companions will drain you like nothing else. However, it was during this that I learned in a whole new way what the above verses really meant. (Not surprising, I guess - we grow the most in times of trouble, not ease...) Since then, I have determined to respond differently when that familiar feeling of fatigue begins to overtake me. As I become better acquainted with myself, I'm discovering people, places and activities that bring real rest and rejuvenation, and those that definitely do not!
While that list may look different for everyone, maybe there are some common ones? Solitude comes to mind; silence, too. Put the two together and you have a powerful restorative. Except in our day and age, these two things are rarer than hen's teeth! When was the last time you indulged in both of these - or even one or the other? Yet, it's in silence and solitude, with all distractions and interruptions and preoccupations stripped way, that we can truly come to Him for the rest we so desperately need. Allow me to leave you with one more verse to ponder:
"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength".
May you know real joy today!