” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I don’t know about you but I ended the year exhausted and bent under a heavy load. The year past has been a rough one. Every time I thought it couldn’t get any harder, it did. Every time I thought I had reached the end of a particular journey it turned out to be just another detour with miles and miles ahead of me. As I bent to a knee at the altar of a borrow church, the profoundness of how tired I was washed over me. I felt the tears well in my heart but I kept them from my eyes so that all people saw was my smile. I didn’t want strangers to see the depth of weariness in my soul.
As I struggled to stand up after too brief a prayer following the passing of communion, I felt two sets of hands. I looked up into the loving eyes of my husband as he tenderly placed one hand under my elbow, grasping my hand with his other to bring me steadily to my feet. On the other side was an equally steadying hand under my elbow, another to the small of my back. Yet, in that profound moment, I realized that no one stood on my left side. Love washed over me as I felt the comforting arms of my Savior as He welcomed, eagerly it would seem, the burdens of my heart.
I stood anonymously in a pew in a church far from home, celebrating the birth of my Savior who, because of His great love for me, came down to earth to show me just how deep that love is. In that moment of surrender there at the altar, I learned another lesson from the greatest Teacher. While I am surrounded by many people who love me, who support me, who lift me up when I am down, it is His great love for me that will ultimately infuse me with the strength I need to move forward when all I feel is weakness.
In 1 John 4:9 we are reminded that “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
How amazing is that?
Later on, standing on the steps of that church, holding a flickering candle to light up the darkness, I lifted my voice with those around me in praise to His Name. The words of Silent Night swirled up into the heavens, mingled I am sure with thousands if not millions of other voices singing those haunting words at that exact same moment on Christmas Eve. I pondered again the realization that I am here because He loves me. I am alive because He loves me. I was created because He loves me. He pursues me, He lifts me up, He takes on my burdens when I stumble, He never leaves me alone.
Even though this year was hard, even though I am overwhelmed with where my life is at this moment, even though I am far from home, far from family, far from friends……I am never ever far from Him. His loving hands will always be there to steady me, to remind me, to bring me up from my knees to continue moving forward in His purpose.
And so, with His love to guide me, I face tomorrow with a renewed strength. I won’t say that I am giddy with excitement about what lies ahead. After all, I am still so very tired. But He has promised to give me rest. And in that promise I will always find my strength.