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.

Loving in the little

Last year, Matt and I stood in the rain together and prayed for our country at the Missouri Capitol. Him being there with me was a beautiful act of love. Love is so much more than one day a year!

Valentine’s Day is made for grand gestures, thoughtful gifts and lovey-dovey profile pictures. Flower shops and even Wal-Mart stores are clogged with people grabbing a token of their affection to proclaim their love. Though we don’t really need a day like this to express our adoration, this holiday serves as a reminder to appreciate those we love.

Tomorrow, it all goes on clearance.

The chocolate gets eaten, the flowers die and the stuffed animals get thrown in a closet.

The grand gestures mean nothing if not backed up by the day-in-day-out loving in the little ways no one else sees. Filling the coffee pot, early morning snuggles, supporting them in their work and ministry, staying up late to help with homework, folding the laundry, giving each other a kiss before heading off for the day, always speaking well of each other in public, praying for God’s favor in their life, backing them up, doing dishes, watching TV together, making breakfast, giving compliments, showing up, being honest when it’s hard, putting their needs above yours, sending an “I love you” text just because you do, giving them space to process and not heading straight for the argument. True love is validated in the everyday.

Jesus personally showed us this truth:

  • Jesus helped people out in a jam (John 2:1-10)
  • Jesus touched a leper who needed Him (Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:40-41)
  • Jesus took time to answer the questions of those seeking (John 3:1-20)
  • Jesus stood in the gap to rescue and forgive those who didn’t deserve it (John 8:3-11)
  • Jesus was willing to be interrupted (Mark 1:35-37)
  • Jesus fiercely defended His Father (Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17)
  • Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law and healed her without being asked (Matthew 8:14-15)
  • Jesus had dinner with Matthew and his friends and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it (Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 5:29-32)
  • Jesus shared His ministry with His friends (Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7-12, Luke 9:1-2, 10:1)
  • Jesus sent the disciples ahead and cleaned up Himself (Mark 6:45)
  • Jesus was patient and took the time to have deep conversation (Matthew 13:36-37)
  • Jesus challenged his friends to dig deeper in their faith (Matthew 14:28-33)
  • Jesus had great compassion and entered into other’s grief (Luke 7:12-15)
  • Jesus sailed through storms with His friends (Luke 8:22-25)
  • Jesus was patient when Martha was stressed (Luke 10:40-42)
  • Jesus got His hands dirty to help and heal (Mark 7:33, 8:23, John 9:6)
  • Jesus saw people no one else did (Luke 19:5, 21:1-2, John 4:6-7, 5:5-8)
  • Jesus showed his friends who He really was (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3, Luke 9:29)
  • Jesus grieved with His friends (John 11:33-35)
  • Jesus loved his disciples despite petty arguments (Mark 9:33-37)
  • Jesus told the truth even when it wasn’t what a young man wanted to hear (Matthew 19:21-22, Mark 10:21-22, Luke 18:22-23)
  • Jesus wept over the lostness of people He loved (Luke 19:41)
  • Jesus stood up and defended those who loved Him (Matthew 26:10-13, Mark 14:6-9)
  • Jesus washed His disciples feet (13:4-5)
  • Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us (John 17:6-26)
  • Jesus loved Peter enough to tell him the truth (Matthew 26:33-34)
  • Jesus shared His sorrow (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34)
  • Jesus took care of His mom (John 19:25-27)
  • Jesus forgave (Luke 23:36)

Jesus loved. Scripture is seeped in His love. And when the time came for the Greatest Act of Love, when Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross, His disciples could believe and we can believe it now because every moment of His life was a testament to His amazing love for us.

The cross is the proof of a lifetime and eternity of God’s love. In a similar way, Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be just a one-shot love deal. Today, let’s celebrate the culmination of the 365 days before, and the promise of future days, full of loving in the little.