Do you feel tired? Weary from world happenings? God knows.
Do you feel lonely? Perhaps, many around you — don’t fully understand you. God understands.
There are seasons where God sets us apart to figure things out: us and God. It can feel odd.
I feel this right now. The Lord has positioned me in such a place where there is risk…where I need to pray…where I have to trust Him for big things…where He is working on me…where I have to look at our relationship afresh..where I am not sure what the future holds…where I’ve been going, going, going. Yes, it feels odd, annoying even. I am set apart from what is normal for me.
The feelings could overwhelm me — if I am not careful.
Yet, I know this: a wise person never allows feelings to force them to give up. They see them for what they are — like little waves — that are passing emotions. And, they come to understand the reason they are set apart — is to be with God.
Did you know that the biblical word “holy” (Hebrew: Qodesh) means set apart? Whether we are John, Jesus, or David, there’s a God set-up for God’s setting us apart. This setting apart was always a part of God’s plan to use them in mighty ways.
John paved the way for Jesus. Jesus paved the way for sinners. We are set apart to pave the way for God’s great moves in our hearts, as we let Him do what He wants to do even through discomfort. We are set apart — so we can meet with Him.
We are set apart so that His leadings, love, and lessons can teach us to not only survive but to thrive, no matter what we face. It is here we learn to rise above other’s opinions, the world’s estimations, and natural limitations. Here, we learn to completely rely on God.
So, don’t let a feeling throw you. This too shall pass. But, God’s love endures forever. And, perhaps, He is setting you apart because He loves your time together. And so that you can know that He has a very, very good plan for your life… And so you know Him as your truest King, above finances, health or relationships.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Is. 40:29-31)
My dad and his older brother have a favorite tale they expose about their youth. Their younger brother was a studious boy. He would finish his homework and then go to bed before the sun went down, in an effort to be well rested for school the next day. After he’d been sound asleep for about an hour, my dad and his brother would wake their younger brother for school. The poor boy would get up, dress, and scramble upstairs for breakfast. Their mother would be the first to alert the poor dupe of the prank.
Recently, alone in a hotel, I was so duped. I fell asleep at 8:45 in the evening. We have seven children, and I had been hectic away from home at speaking engagements. I was exhausted. When I woke I barely recognized my surroundings. I got up, made a pot of coffee, pulled on my cozy robe and opened the light blocking drapes. I was pleased to see the sun wasn’t up yet. As I opened my computer, I smiled to myself; I would have an entire day to work alone in the hotel and I was eager to get started.
That is when I saw the time.
It was only 12:15 am. I had been asleep less than four hours.
Granted four hours of uninterrupted sleep at home is nothing short of a miracle. Between the teens texting to ask me if I am awake, the toddlers requiring comfort after a nightmare, and the baby demanding a bottle – I rarely get unremitting sleep.
I turned off the coffee pot, closed the drapes, and climbed back into the crispy, hotel grade, Egyptian cotton sheets.
It was both a relief… and a burden.
I lie there giggling to myself. And then, I worried about my husband, home alone with our brood. He was probably exhausted too. I felt dejected I wasn’t there to help him.
Unable to fall back to sleep, I got up and worked until 5, fell asleep on my keyboard and was startled awake at 7:20 when the neighbor in the adjoining room started his shower.
I felt all the pangs of a protracted night and my keyboard was firmly imprinted on my left cheek.
I drug my weary body to the shower and stretched the kinks out of my neck and back. Steam chased me from the bathroom and I poured a cup of stale coffee into a sorry little Styrofoam cup and added powdered cream. I stared out of the window at the foreign town, straining to spy a Starbucks on the horizon.
As bitter java assaulted my tongue, I bemoaned the day before me.
The sun poured out the freshness of a new morning, yet I felt less than fresh. Scripture floated into my mind, “Come to me all you who are weary, I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Yet, in spite of the rest, He offers me, I sleep on my keyboard and then bathe in culpability when I put my feet up to take a break.
I associate rest with something shameful rather than a blessing.
Curious, the Maker of Heaven and Earth produced this body for survival in an unconscious state. Eyes closed, breath steady, mind in a playground of non-sense, unprovoked folly, escapism, and suppressed considerations. Occasionally, darkness creeps in and a chase ensues or great terrors play out, still, He fashioned me for slumber.
Society demands I work harder, invest more and rest less. He waits for me. The blessing of rest in His gentle hand, and instead of wrapping up in His majestic creation of slumber, mind, and body – I analyze, supervise, and contrive.
I am weary. And I am most weary of the weariness. Self-induced standards of being most effective, crowning production, and the bragging rites of minimal repose.
If He were here now, if I stood before my Lord and He presented me with a lovely package; a medium sized box wrapped in shiny paper, an enormous bow, glitter, and streamers, would I decline the offering?
Would I boastfully retort, “I don’t need that from you.”
Oh, my stars! The mere thought slays me. Yet, I refuse Him… often.
But not today. Today, I closed the heavy swathes of my room. With lotioned flesh and a soaking wet head, I slipped back into the pajamas I had tossed aside before my shower. I hung the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the outside doorknob. A mischievous smile crept across my face. I poured another cup of coffee and snickered when I uncovered two tiny cups of liquid creamer underneath the packets of dehydrated Coffee-mate powder. How had I missed those?
A gift of rest. I might write. I might watch the I Love Lucy marathon on channel 18. I might nap. A package of crackers and bottled water sit on my nightstand. Today, I accept the gift of rest. This is a rare occasion, still, I wonder, how many days I neglected the gift? A load of laundry dominates the opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my babies. Running to the grocery store in lieu of a lunch date with my husband, or staying up another hour to catch up on that which will never actually ever be fully settled.
Coffee with a friend; bubble baths or just a moment alone on the closet floor begging His help maneuvering homework and dinner – so that I might sleep just an hour before the baby wakes.
A good Father, Creator of the gift of rest. And more than this rare occasion where I celebrate loneliness, I know I will need the rest He offers in times of worry, heartache, and grief. What will I say then? Lord, I pray I remember you stand in wait with the majesty of rest. Rest only you can bring me.
Thank you for that, my Lord. Thank you.
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Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
This verse follows me around these days, everywhere I go.
From a series I wrote last year to a recent sermon at church to a card from a new friend with this verse painted on the front. Two books I read this summer discussed it at length, and last week, our community group sat around the living room, talking about ways we need to listen to these words.
Do scriptures sometimes chase you around like that?
Like arrows, they point the way to things we need to see.
Since I know these words well, I almost read past them. But there’s gospel wrapped up in them, and they’re worth listening to again.
Come to me.
This means, first of all, to believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
To come is to eat the bread of life and drink His living water, to enter through the Door and spend time being with Him.
Come to who?
Come to Jesus. Our faith should never be wrapped up in a church or other believers or even ourselves. Salvation is found in a Person—Jesus Christ.
Who should come to Jesus?
All you who are weary and burdened.
This means all of us. We are universally burdened by the weight of our sin. When we come to Jesus, we admit we are chained and He is the only way to freedom.
He desires to set all of us free from sin–if we will come to Him, humble to admit our sin.
There are other ways we are weary and burdened.
The people Jesus spoke to were spiritually weary. The Pharisees placed heavy loads on their shoulders and insisted on a legalistic reading of the law, causing unnecessary spiritual anxiety.
They were weary, and this was not the way of Jesus.
These days, many of us are weary because we rarely stop striving. Maybe we’ve swallowed the lie that we are not enough, we need to prove ourselves, and God is just waiting for us to get our junk together and DO something for Him. Also, it better be big. Flashy. Measurable.
Maybe we’re trying to keep up with what EVERYONE ELSE is already doing, or there’s another reason we work so hard. Either way, we are tired from all we’re doing. We’re burdened by commitments we take upon ourselves unnecessarily.
We may also be burdened by the demands of others, because sometimes the people we care for DO need more. Sometimes, others place loads upon us that we weren’t meant to bear. Other times, we carry wounds caused by others’ sins against us.
Jesus sees all of this. He sees the reasons we are weary and burdened, and He cares.
Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life—offers a better way.
He wants to give us true spiritual and physical rest. He offers eternal rest, as in salvation, and then He gives us even more. The Greek word here carries with it the idea of relief, refreshment, ease, blessed quiet, and even recreation.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)
We may daily enter into the rest of Christ, but this is not something we can earn. It is His gift to us, as we come to Him for life.
At first, we come to Jesus as sinners in need of salvation.
Once we know the way, we come to Him AS the way to life.
We take His yoke upon us, instead of our own. Instead of what everyone else says we need or we need to do. We learn from Him.
In Jesus Christ, we find rest for our souls. With Him, we live out the beauty of the gospel. In Christ, we find rest and life and everything we need.
I’m praying that rest is yours today,
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.