Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Diane and I spent most of Labor Day helping with the continuing clean-up processes in the Cypress community. The challenging task of ripping up very-well-glued-down vinyl flooring proved to be a blister-inducing and back-aching process. We graduated from there to delivering items from a local assistance ministry to our church as a temporary warehousing solution. After that we learned about moping up remaining flood remnants with a bleach-based solution. By the time the day was over we were both tired. It was, however, a great Labor Day for us; we don’t often do physical work of that kind.
Nor are we alone in this effort. Once again we had a large crew of people at St. John mustering in the morning for various houses and work-sites. People have mopped, scraped, sorted, vacuumed, mucked-out, cleaned, and worked in many different ways and places. The day was a Labor Day of a different sort for many people in our community.
There is, however, another side to these stories – the side of the suffering, the flood victims, and those who have lost their homes, possessions, dignity, and courage in the face of these floods. While we who worked may need physical rest, those whose homes we visited have not only the physical exhaustion, but the emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion as well. They truly are weary and heavy ladened.
The offer of Jesus of rest requires that we come to him, and that we take the yoke of his love and compassion as our own. We learn from him about grace, kindness, sacrifice, and love. We also learn faith. Jesus had perfect faith – something we do not have. We waver and doubt. Jesus never took his eyes or heart off his Father’s goodness, faithfulness, justice, love, and promises.
But if we have a spark of faith – a bruised-reed allotment, a smoldering flax portion – we can find rest in Jesus. Even the spark of faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And even a spark can give us the clear conscience that affords a good night’s sleep. A flicker of faith can provide the peace of heart that allows us to lay our worries aside and with them the need to plan, scheme, and contingency-plan our way through life: an exhausting process!
We will likely sleep well tonight, as long as we are not too achy. But the greater rest, which we all need is the rest for our souls that Jesus provides. Join him in a life of love, faith, mercy, grace, and truth. Sometimes such a path is difficult and burdensome. Those are especially good times for us to come to Jesus.
PS: This happens to be my confirmation verse, and the verse that the pastor who preached at my ordination used for the message that day. – DLB