Come Rest

“I am tired.” These are the words I have found myself repeating frequently to the Lord over the last several years. Why am I tired? I have a full-time job as a seminary professor that I love. It’s a dream job, really. I’ve been a full-time PhD student for the last four years and just recently finished writing my dissertation. I have three daughters and a husband I adore. My husband is also a professor, and my daughters are growing into their own with all the joys, pains, anxieties, dangers, likes, and dislikes in the up and downs of life of 9-, 11-, and 16-year-old girls. As with anything worthwhile, parenting is both exhilarating and exhausting. 

We’re part of a church we have always loved and just recently returned to because we moved back to the area. With our beloved church community comes the joys and pains of those we love in the congregation. One of my closest friends is dying of cancer. It is a painful reality. All this is life. My life. And it is good. I have food, shelter, and a familial and church refuge. Not everyone has that. I did not always; I know what it is like to be poor and lonely. So I am profoundly grateful. 

So why am I bone tired?  The worries of life? Yes, in part. Concerns about being able to pay the bills, worries over the welfare of my daughters, husband, extended family, friends—both near and far—do fill my world. Grief over the death of my mother three years ago still comes in waves. These are all concerns that I do continually cast upon the Lord. But there is something else. Something in the air. Something on top of all that. Christians are fighting and devouring one another. In the U.S. at least, we are very polarized over political opinions. Scandal after scandal has brought to light the sins of evangelical leaders. The church is not considered by many to be a good witness to the love of God and the way of Jesus. Furthermore, many have died from, and continue to suffer the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is great inequality. The rich grow much richer and the poor grow much poorer. 

I am tired not only because of the sustained efforts of my life over the last many years and the troubles we all encounter, but also because I, like so many, care deeply not only about the welfare of those closest to me, but the welfare of the Church and the welfare of our communities. Amid all of these things weighing on me, I have begun to seriously consider the real-world implications of Jesus’ words that I learned in the King James version of the Bible: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). What do these words actually mean? 

I don’t have space to reflect upon the whole meaning of the verses here, but I do want to consider the first word: “come.” Coming to Jesus means I must leave things behind. I cannot both come to Jesus and remain where I am. Though I am obeying Jesus in every way I know how, and spending time with him, there is something amiss, something about who I am and where I am that is leaving me out of sorts, weary, and heavy laden. There is more that I must learn from Jesus. Thus, I need to be with Jesus more, so I can sit at his feet, learn from him, and rest in him. Spending even more time with Jesus by coming to Jesus more frequently will put all things in perspective, reprioritize my life, and allow me to better love others and bear their burdens. 

I have found that fasting from social media is one practice that allows me to return to Jesus and spend more time with him. It forces me to be present to my present circumstances. I have been fasting from social media for a few weeks now and spending more time with Jesus throughout the day. Let me tell you, I am beginning to experience deep rest. I have discovered that being on social media agitates my soul even if I am imbibing good things. So I am leaving social media to come to Jesus. 

What do you have to leave for you to come to Jesus and find rest for your soul? Will you leave it? 

—Written by Marlena Graves. Used by permission from the author.