“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing: that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.” –Anne Lamott
It seems like everyone is in the middle of ‘stuff’ these days. Some of it is pretty big, like finding out your 5-year old has autism; or your parent’s cancer is back; or your future isn’t going to be what you thought because of a failed class, a relationship break-up, or an unexpected situation at work.
Some of the stuff is smaller – but seems bigger because the small things always come in batches. Like when the dog poo’s in the house just as the UPS guy rings the doorbell with a package you have been waiting for and it needs a signature. At about the same moment the washing machine overflows and the cat knocks over the remains of your cold coffee from this morning that you never did get to drink because the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I don’t even have a cat, but you get my point. It’s the flat tire when you’re already late for work; the scorched dinner when 10 guests are arriving in 5 minutes; the realtor who shows up unannounced with potential buyers when all of your children are home with the flu; or the jeans that used to fit, but will only close today if you lay on your back and use a pliers to get the right leverage to zip the zipper.
The grim, bleak shit that comes our way…
Matthew 11: 27-29 reminds us that Jesus will give us rest if we only remember to bring our burdens to him. And, that we can take his yoke and learn from him for he is ‘gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’
This isn’t a promise that everything will be okay as long as we have enough faith. You know, the twisted belief that Jesus is the magic vending machine in the sky who will give us what we want as long as we put in the right prayer. Unfortunately, that irresponsible concept has been perpetrated by too many doctrines for too long. Although, I would be lying if I said there was never a time I hoped it would work that way. There is a part of most of us that longs for life to simply work out the way we want it to happen. My agenda, my plan, my hopes, my dreams and my desires. Oops…
The thing is, Jesus-God has something else in mind for us. Matthew 11:27-29 is really an invitation to us: ‘Come to me…’ And, if we do, we can find rest. Now that part sounds pretty good! The really good news is he is ‘gentle of heart’. I hope that means he understands when I offer up my tirade about the disparities of life! There have been several lately…
We have to also recognize there is a middle section of the passage that talks about ‘taking a yoke’ and ‘learning from him’. Some invitation! This is beginning to sound like work! However, when we put the entire passage together, it is a simple beaconing from the one who loves us more than we are capable of knowing to come to him, to walk with him and he will help us learn his ways. It is in and through this formula that we will find peace.
Side note: For those of us from the city or suburbs, a yoke is a wooden beam strapped to two oxen so they can carry a load together. ‘Take my yoke’ doesn’t tell us we are on our own with some horrible burden. It tells us we will have help through love and find that seemingly elusive ‘peace’.
If you are like me, it’s difficult to recognize help. I want the big-guy; the royal telephone; the divine bullhorn!!! Okay, I would settle for the still, quiet voice in the wilderness and I might even stop screaming long enough to hear it if I knew it was going to say something that I could physically hear. The problem is, I want something that I recognize as a sign from God that all is right with the world, or at least my corner in it. It doesn’t work that way.
It does work when we recognize God is truly working in and through all situations; that God is always and everywhere; that God simply is. Help comes through the neighbor who asks if they can do anything for you in the situation and really means it. Help is the moment when that same, autistic 5-year old looks up at you and says, ‘I love you’. And, as we recognize those things that help us through a situation, we recognize that light will always, always, always, always, always come after the darkness.
Light…hope…come to me all who are weary with heavy burdens…yokes…we’ll work through it together…come to me…come to me…love…hope…
Now that’s a message I need to embrace!