Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 CEB)
In December 2013, I had written all but one chapter of a book manuscript exploring Jesus’ wonderful, but seemingly impossible, invitation, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” I knew the thrust of the final chapter, but had no words even to begin it.
After reviewing and editing the other chapters, I set the manuscript aside for the holidays, thinking I would write the closing chapter in January 2014 and have a new e-book published by spring. It would be titled, Return to Your Rest.
January 6, 2014, my father went in for a heart cath. January 13, he underwent open heart surgery. February 1, he died. At his passing, I wrote two posts that expressed the grief and acceptance I felt: “Homecoming” and “Eulogy.”
I didn’t know that the months ahead held far more than natural grief. For my father’s death triggered a series of events that turned my world upside down.
I’ve had other hard years, mind you, but 2014 proved the darkest yet. Strangely, as the year progressed, I had a strong sense that God was birthing something – almost as if I myself had re-entered the womb. Along the way, I could see glimpses of profound things the Lord was accomplishing. But that didn’t mean it felt good.
Most definitely, the rest I’d enjoyed previously had fled. For months, my thoughts and emotions ricocheted everywhere. At the same time, the Spirit of Christ continually said to my spirit:
The source of your rest lies in him who has invited you and to whom you have come. He has not forsaken you. His rest will return, if you do not give up but rather press in with Jesus to go through.
As the months of 2014 passed, I didn’t even try to revisit my manuscript or to start that elusive last chapter. I dared not return to my book until I had returned to my rest.
By the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, I had begun to see light and to feel lighter. Once again, I started reading and meditating on the psalm that, a year earlier, God had showed me would form the heart of that last chapter. It’s Psalm 23, David’s song of rest.
As I pondered and waited before the Lord, words began to flow again, along with the release to write them. At last, I saw what God the Spirit was showing me in this beautiful song.
What I had gained in the interim wasn’t so much new insight, mentally, as it was new awareness in my inmost part. Having walked the valley of the shadow in 2014, I can now sing David’s song from a deeper, richer place.
Life’s struggles and battles will continue, of course. And there may be other seasons when rest seems to have permanently fled. But now, from experience, I can say to myself and to you:
No matter how completely God’s rest seems to have disappeared from your life, he still holds it out, and he makes the way for you to return.
This week, I wrote the draft of that last chapter. Once again, I’m singing a song of rest.
14 months later