Summary: There are times when life just doesn’t make sense, and the best thing we can do is cry out, "Hold Me Jesus."
Rich Mullins sings a song in which part of the lyrics say, “Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all. The mountains seem so big and my faith just seems so small. Hold me Jesus, for I’m shaking like a leaf, you have been king of my glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to that song when I’ve been in the midst of a struggle. Whether I’ve been facing an important decision or found myself in the midst of a crisis, for there have been times where I’ve looked up at the mountains and they have seemed so big, and the thought of climbing those mountains was terrifying.
I imagine many of you have been in similar circumstances. How did you deal with the large mountains looming in front of you? Often times we rely on bumper sticker theology, and by bumper sticker theology, I mean those cute little sayings that would fit on a bumper sticker. “Life isn’t a bed of roses.” “Time heals all wounds.” “The sun will come up tomorrow.” “Don’t worry, be happy.” “You just never know.”
There is an element of truth in each of these thoughts, and we say them to ourselves and to each other usually with a glimmer of hope and wishful thinking, much like we would hope for a band-aid to take care of a gunshot wound. There’s a big hole. There’s lots of damage and a great deal of pain. We hope this’ll fix it, but it rarely does. Have you ever been there? Have you ever looked life square in the eye and had it snarl back at you? It ain’t fun and it ain’t easy.
Jesus was acutely aware of this when he said, “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus extended this invitation to those who were exhausted. He extended this invitation to those who were worn out. He extended this invitation to those who were searching for truth.
The first century Jew understood and related to God through the Law of Moses. During that day, the Law was all about “Thou Shall Not.” The Law was heavy. The Law was burdensome. Trying to find God and searching for truth in any situation, whether it was joy or sorrow, was an ordeal. Christ realized that those in search of the truth, that those in search of God, that those seeking rest, were in of Good News. Christ is the Good News.
When you’re in need of rest, what do you do? When you come home from a long day at work, and you’re exhausted and worn out, what do you do? For me, one of the first things I do to help myself unwind is change clothes. I get out of the slacks, dress shirt, and dress shoes, and put on a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt. My mother calls it “putting on your soft clothes.” There’s something therapeutic and cleansing about “putting on your soft clothes.”
Perhaps you or your children have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal? Perhaps they sleep with it or keep it close by during the day? There’s a certain comfort, there’s a certain peace, there’s a certain ability to find rest that comes with the familiarity of that favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Christ’s invitation is for each of us to experience that same familiarity, to find that same peace, that same comfort, and that same rest with him.
He speaks to them in a way that they can understand: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Many folk in that day had oxen, and a yoke was necessary to provide guidance. A yoke could either be burly, uncomfortable and binding, or it could be custom-made to provide a smooth, easy fit. Christ was offering them the benefit of his yoke. Christ was offering them the benefit of a smooth, easy fitting guide that would bring them comfort and rest.
A great deal has taken place during this past week to remind us of the need for an easy-fitting yoke that will bring comfort and rest. Many of you are aware of the relationship that Bert and our youth group cultivated with Alison Duprey. Before Alison graduated from high school, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. For the past few years, she and her family have dealt with the pain of cancer, the joy of remission, and the sorrow of its return. They fought for healing. They tried almost every conceivable treatment and medication to cure Alison. They desperately wanted to find comfort and peace.
Over the past few months, it became obvious that Alison was not going to survive. The family began making to prepare themselves. Instead of pursuing treatment, they focused on making Alison comfortable. They wanted her suffering to end. Though they never gave up hope for Alison, their greatest desire for her became peace and rest. I can scarcely imagine the physical and emotional toll that these past few years have inflicted upon her parents. Their sole focus was taking care of their daughter. It’s not supposed to be that way. “Hold me Jesus, for I’m shaking like a leaf.”