Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
Many years ago, I found myself in the rural region of Israel on a hillside overlooking the lake that we call the Sea of Galilee which, in Hebrew is called “Yam Kinneret.” In that moment, I could almost imagine Jesus speaking to the crowds. I want you to take a moment to see if you can imagine yourself with Jesus on this hillside as he preached these words to the people gathered below. It has been said that Jesus’ teaching was unlike anything they had ever heard before. People were fascinated with his words because they were full of wisdom and life. If you want to close your eyes to try to imagine the scene, I encourage you to do so. And then reread the words of Scripture that I have shared above in this fresh translation.
If you are tired and burnt out, Jesus is inviting you to simply come along with him on this journey of life – to experience your life through his eyes, as we learn from him. This Scripture suggests that there are two parts to this pilgrimage. The first invitation offered is this: “Come to me and learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Simply let go. Here I need to share with you a little anecdote from that trip. One evening, a metalworker was available to design a piece of jewelry for each of us. As I was deciding, I saw a beautiful ring engraved in Hebrew. When my eyes rested there, the jeweler invited me to choose my favorite Scripture to be engraved on it. I told him it was “Be still and know that I am God.” He suggested that this might be too long for a ring, so I asked, “What if I just put down, ‘Be still,’ and he laughed. “Well, in Hebrew that means, just let go.” And my friends laughed with me, because they knew, and I knew that letting go has never been my strong suit. But the longer I have lived, the more I have realized that letting go is necessary to every spiritual journey.
The second part of the invitation is: “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Without letting go of my preconceived notions of what life should be in these times, I cannot receive the freshness of new possibilities that I had not envisioned on my own. While we are in these days of uncertainty and frustration, I want to encourage you to be a pilgrim – one who is journeying to a sacred place to re-discover Jesus. Consider letting go of your expectations. Take some time for quiet reflection, even if you have never been one for quiet prayer. You never know – letting go may open you up to a new adventure, learning from Jesus may mean taking a risk into new possibilities.
Rev. Dr. Deborah Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care
For those on the path to re-discovering their faith:
Gracious God, we are slowly discovering the paradox of experiencing all of life with you. The struggles we have known as a part of this life are the very road leading us to you. Teach us that honest surrender leads to boundless freedom, that vulnerability is really courage, and stepping into the wide unknown without expectations is the beginning of adventure with you. Help us to remember that we don’t have to dictate what will happen because we can trust that you will open our eyes to the next right step. In the ways of Jesus. Amen.