“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“
When the autumn season begins, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s like a thick blanket envelops me. It is grey. It is rainy. It’s cool enough outside to begin to be uncomfortable, but not so cold as to actually be frigid. It is, I would say, a somber and reflective time. Not at all the high energy season of the year.
In such times my thoughts turn more readily towards melancholy and finitude. The weather just seems to require it. And trust me, the busyness and stress levels of the college professor in the month of October do nothing to diminish the effect.
As I ponder such things, I think I can hear more clearly the words of Jesus in Matthew 11. Understanding that I can come to Him when I am weary gives me great comfort. Knowing that those burdens can be laid down is a promise of inestimable value. This brief verse is a special one to me in these greyer days. It confirms and recalls God’s great love for God’s people. For me.
I’m a big fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. I understand that grace is not cheap. I realize the Christian life is one which will involve sacrifice and potential suffering. So when I talk about the rest that Jesus offers, understand I do not do so lightly. I’m not saying that the Christian life is all lollipops, unicorns, and soft-pillowed rest. What I am saying is that in those seasons when life is darker and when times are tougher, I am ever so grateful that He is there. The refreshment offered in Matthew 11, you’ll note, comes deep in the midst of the weariness and burdens we feel.
Jesus’ promise to give rest to those who come to Him is not something I take lightly. Especially in those times when there seems nowhere else to turn, He is there. In the darkness of the traffic-filled 6am commute, He is there. In the process of sorting out the various pile of papers on my desk, He is there. When it seems you’ve just said “yes” to one thing too many and now you have to figure out how to honor your word when there are only so many hours in the day, He is there.
In certain seasons it really feels like, as C. S. Lewis once wrote, that it is “always Winter but never Christmas.” In such times, Jesus says it is still alright. We do not have to do this alone. When our strength is faltering or gone, there is One to whom we can turn. That’s a promise I’ll take any day.
Friends, just as much as we need other things–and perhaps a lot more–sometimes we need a rest. I, for one, am thankful there is somewhere to turn.