Finding Rest

Read Matthew 11:28-30

As enjoyable as the holiday season is, it can leave us exhausted. All the activities and events can keep us running. With the inclusion of meal preparations, gift shopping and wrapping, baking, and hosting, our energy can quickly be depleted. When the holidays are completed for another year, many of us wish to enjoy some downtime and an opportunity to recoup some energy. We need some rest.

Jesus is talking to his followers in what Matthew records within today’s passage. An invitation is given to them and all who hear his words. The invitation begins with an offer of rest, a releasing of life’s burdens. Then an additional offer to be connected to Jesus so we might learn how to manage through life is presented. Jesus tells all that with Jesus’s assistance, we will be able to shoulder what life presents, we will not be alone.

At a time when rest may be our greatest desire, these words reassure and comfort us. The end of the holiday season is not the only time when we hunger for regeneration and assistance. We benefit from remembering that no matter what burdens life may present to us, we do not need to bear them alone. We have this promise from the Lord that the burdens will be shared. Learning alongside Jesus will allow us to understand navigating the experiences life presents without collapsing. Knowing that we are able to find respite in the Lord makes situations more bearable.

Shade

One of the joys which I treasure about my home is the trees in our front yard. We have a sweet gum tree, a pecan tree, and a crape myrtle. There are actually two other crape myrtles which we are nursing back to life since the previous owners cut them down to the ground. These trees provide wonderful shade throughout a majority of the day. They also add some beautiful color to our front yard. I am very thankful for these trees, and they are one of the reasons we preferred this house over some newly built houses which we looked at last fall. There is one crape myrtle in our backyard and we have planted two dwarf magnolia trees this spring. Trees provide so many wonderful benefits to our lives. As I looked out at them recently, I thought about the need for shade in our lives.

Life can be pretty taxing on a person. There are plenty of worries and concerns which add a lot of heat to our lives. When I think about the promises of God, I am reminded of passages from the Bible where I see the concept of God providing some shade in our lives. Here are a few of those passages which come quickly to my mind:

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:2-3a, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8, NIV)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

While these passages do not specifically use the word shade, the imagery provided gives me a sense of being in the shade of the Lord.

I also consider how we can provide shade for one another. Just as God shades us and gives us rest from those difficult aspects of life even for a small period of time, we can share that shade with others. We can be a place of safety and shelter for them. We can provide calm and reassurance. People need to have that shade provided for them in the troubling times of life. By our acts of compassion, comfort and love, we share the refuge and shade which we have received from our Lord.

Where are you finding shade in your days? Where are you providing shade for others?