Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
How relaxed are you feeling? In this strange year, which has seen so many new demands made of us, coupled with our proximity to Christmas, I sense that not many people can say that they are relaxed. For several months doctors, scientists, politicians and commentators have been telling us that we are all stressed and struggling with various mental health issues. We have been told that we are all lonely and isolated, struggling to come to terms with changes in routine, and growing increasingly suspicious of the strategies that have been put in place to try and protect us from the virus that is sweeping across the world. If we listen to what others are saying we will certainly not be feeling relaxed.
But … there are those for whom none of the above is true. Some have found new purpose in trying to help those less fortunate or able than themselves. Some have found that their naturally optimistic and ‘sunny’ personalities have not been compromised by the events of the year. Some have found the resolve to make the best of the situation in order that they might avoid all the negative ‘stuff’ the pundits tell us we should be afflicted with. Then, there are some who would be struggling if it was not for their faith in the words of Jesus Christ.
Life in the Middle East in the first century was not easy. There were the brutal Roman occupying forces to contend with, inadequate medical care (as compared to the medical know-how and resources available to us), economic uncertainty, inadequate facilities for the care and nurture of children, corruption in those who had authority over the lives of many. Life in Jesus’ time was not easy, and Jesus knew that. Jesus also knew that there was a way of finding peace and joy, and relaxation of body and spirit. Jesus knew that if humanity learnt to cast its cares onto his shoulders, then there would be a profound understanding of what it meant to lead the Christian life.
While we are tense and worried, our minds pre-occupied with the mundane, the political and the economic concerns of modern life, we are not in a place where we can open our hearts and minds to the promptings and the callings of God. Worry undermines the joy of human existence, and so much of the worry is created by ourselves. By listening to the words of Jesus and by learning to follow the lead he gives, we will come to know the fullness of the Christian life. The concerns and fears of the world will not go away, but we will be so much stronger as we allow God to lead us through them, around them, or even into direct confrontation with them.
Give it a go. Come to Jesus and find the rest that only he can give.