Shoulders

Rest, even in our quarantined world, can be hard to come by.

Just recently, I have surfaced on the other side of coronavirus. My symptoms were mild compared to most, though I found myself tired constantly. My nature is to push through, and so after a week of not allowing myself to rest because I wasn’t “that sick”, it all caught up to me. Then, I had to rest because my body wouldn’t let me function otherwise.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

– Isaiah 9:6

This month, Isaiah 9:6 has been on my mind and heart. Usually, the beautiful names of Jesus are the focus of this verse — Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Oh, what a Savior we have!

Yet, what I’ve been contemplating since the early start of the Christmas season this year is that the government will rest on His shoulders.

At this juncture in history, and the chronicles of our nation, words like steady, secure, peaceful and gracious aren’t used to describe our ongoing circumstances. So many are hurting and struggling. Yet, Isaiah 9:6 declares that the government rests on His shoulders. I think we’ve forgotten that. Christmas is about trusting that Jesus came to shoulder the mess and sinfulness of our world.

I will admit that too often I allow the stressors and burdens of life and of this world to rest on my own shoulders. I want to handle it, even when I can’t. I want to make things happen, when it’s not up to me. I hold onto and bear what I wasn’t meant to carry.

Jesus came into this world to set us free and give our weary souls the rest we may not have even realized we needed.

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 can know this verse is true because of what Jesus carried on His shoulders as He climbed Golgotha and was raised up on the cross. He took on my sin, my shame, my burdens, my guilt. All of it rested on Him. He was the only One who could bear it. He gave His life so I could be free of it, and could finally experience the blessing of living in full trust and dependence through faith.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29

This Christmas, please know that Jesus didn’t create you or me to carry all that we’ve placed on our shoulders. He is there, right now, ready to join us, and shoulder the weight of the burdens we haven’t even spoken out loud to anyone. All that He asks is for us to come to His side, and let Him do the heavy lifting. Give Him your heart, and follow His steps.

There, beside the Savior of the World, we will find rest.

Before the healing

I’m worn out. Sick. Tired. My heart races and mind is frustrated with the events swirling to no foreseeable end. How am I supposed to know which way to turn? Truth is clouded, and I am stuck. The space between us is magnified, leaving emptiness in its wake.

This is the reality for 10 people, as their sufferings and desperation unfolds for us in Luke 17.

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”‭‭

Luke‬ ‭17:11-13

Ten men with leprosy stand outside, separated, tremendously suffering. As Jesus enters the village, those men stand at a distance and begin crying out — Jesus, have mercy on us!

Jesus had come to the village for a specific purpose. But God had also brought together events, even painful circumstances, for each of these 10 men to be standing there, ready to call out for mercy to the Only One who could give it.

Jesus, have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!

He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”‭‭

Luke‬ ‭17:14‬a

Jesus looks at them. He acknowledges each one, as valuable, and worth His time and His healing power. However, in that moment, He doesn’t heal them. He gives them a command that doesn’t make sense or that gives resolution.

“Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

The reason a leper would go to the priest is to receive acknowledgment and proclamation of healing. But, these 10 men aren’t healed. By law they aren’t allowed to be anywhere near those who are clean and whole. How can they present themselves for examination by the priest if their bodies are still in decay? And yet, this man they call Master, answers their cry for mercy with this command – Go.

God calls us to step forward in faith and walk as though we are healed before we are actually healed.

As Jesus speaks, He is assuring these 10 of their healing and asking them to believe Him by doing what He says. God’s promise is true before it is fulfilled.

And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:14‬b

As they go, they are healed. They receive the miracle God’s mercy has extended through the word of Jesus.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.‭‭

Luke‬ ‭17:15-16‬

All 10 lepers are healed. All of them realize they were healed. One of them comes back. The other nine continue on to the priests for the official statement of their healing. One returns to The One who had healed him.

This time, though, the former leper doesn’t stand at a distance and call out to the One who had given him mercy. He rushes to Jesus and falls at His feet.

God’s healing isn’t only about curing our sickness – it’s about eliminating the space between us and Him.

God wants us as close to Him as possible, and He will do whatever is necessary to draw us near.

How then how should we live, how do we approach a world of anxiety, chaos, lies and separation?

Call out to Jesus! Ask Him for mercy, for direction, for how to even find the path forward. 

  • God, where are You commanding us to live in Your promise before it is fulfilled – before we can see it?
  • Where are You asking us to believe You?
  • Would you teach us how to gear all of our energy, thoughts and actions through that belief?

Jesus, show us how to step forward healed, even before we actually are.