Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Unless you’ve moved to a community likened to the Amish, or to some monastery/convent far off the beaten path, you’ll quickly realize that life today can be hectic. Many of us have a lot of stuff on our plates: family, career, home, avocation, health, finances, religious, etc that we just can’t put down. We wear many hats, hold many responsibilities, and can out-juggle the best circus jugglers on Earth.
In addition, thanks to our 24-hour, always running, digital society, our issues can follow us almost anywhere in the world via cell/smart phones, texts, Tweets and other social media, e-mails and instant messaging. I saw this on the retreat I mentioned about in “On The Mountaintop” where people at home would call/text those who were supposed to be on a retreat.
Even our children, who should be enjoying their childhood, are burdened down. Tons of homework, endless afterschool and weekend activities, in some cases even having to grow up too soon (for whatever reason) are wearing down our youth.
After a while, if we don’t pause and rest, we’ll crash and burn-hard! We’re seeing an increase in anti-psychotic/depressant prescriptions. We see people still turning to drugs/booze/sex/work/shopping/gambling as escapes. Our youth are lost in mindless entertainment or destructive behaviors to get away from adult-imposed responsibilities. On the other hand, adults are reverting to childish behaviors to escape their responsibilities. People are taking more sick and disability days; or even retiring early from their jobs to keep their sanity.
What hurts is that even the church is not immune. At one time, churches were sanctuaries for weary souls. Now we burden down our already overworked ministers and lay-leaders to the point that they’re burning out. We have overgrown and overblown “Christian centers” with so much going on they make the “Y” look measly in comparison. Our worship services have mutated into “experiences” that entertain so loudly that the engaging silence of God is drowned out. And we in the church wonder why many in our churches are still, in the words of the ageless hymn, “weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care.” Or worse, we become disconnected with both the Divine, with each other, and with ourselves.
Jesus calls us to rest. We need to unplug, unpack, turn off, tune out, and just chill. We need to rest physically, mentally, and spiritually so we can remember our humanity. We also need silence as well-kill some of the noise-internal as well as external. God made us to rest; He/She rested after creation-according to the Genesis tale. Jesus (and his disciples) came apart from the crowds to rest and refresh. We even let our cars and computers rest-and they’re just machines. So why not us?
It’s because we’ve become so driven in our lives, that any hint of rest is seen as either weakness or laziness. We look at rest as being “unproductive”, not realizing it can be the most productive thing in our lives. We have to stay busy, keep producing, stay connected, etc, etc…no matter the costs like those mentioned above.
It’s time to take it down a notch and rest in God-even if it’s a day away from everything. We need to reconnect with the Divine and ourselves. To catch our breath and remember we’re human beings made for that “down time” that we need. Don’t need a fancy retreat up in the mountains-though it would be nice. Nor do you need to steal away to a convent/monastery. Just find the rest that we need so we can be all we’re created to be. For our very lives-in every sense of the word-just might depend on that rest.