I have a little secret. I love winter. While people all around me are grumbling about the cold and the snow and the winds, I smile and nod, but deep down I know the truth- what would life we like without winter?
I love to look out the window and watch the snow come down. I like to add an extra pair of socks and trudge around my yard in the wee hours of morning with my husband and a pair of cross-country skis. I like to sit in my car while it defrosts all the snow and ice, because I’m from St. Louis and even after 10 years in Northern Ohio, I still don’t own a snow scrapper. I like to wrap my hands around a warm mug. But most of all what I love about winter is the rest of it all.
See, I love excitement. I love to go and do and I love to take life at a breakneck. Ministry is even like this for me, and honestly, I think ministry by its nature feels like this for most of us. It doesn’t stop. There is always more to be done, people to care for, programs to plan for, people who need to know the truth of Jesus. And who will tell them?
And we want it to be exciting; we want it to be exuberant and happening. But every day can’t be spring. Every day can’t be new stuff and greater things to come. Every day can’t be fall, with its harvest of new souls and it’s bounty of production. Every day can’t be summer. Every day can’t be VBS and summer camp and youth bonfires. But when nothing is “happening” in ministry we feel the big f’s come on – failure, frustration, and friction. We end up much like Narnia with a ministry that feels like “always winter, and never Christmas.” We feel burnt and spent, but rest alludes us.
So, where is God in our winter? In Matthew 11:28-29, we hear the much loved passage, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
God in heaven, maker of the stars, knows I need rest for my soul…but do I know it? Do you know it? Does your husband know it?
How can we encourage rest for ourselves, and our husbands? We see them scurry to and fro, we see them struggle and work hard. There are evening meetings to be attended and children to put to bed, members who are ill, and homeless who need a warm coat. There are deaths and baptisms, and divorces and Children’s Christmas Programs. Where is the rest in this season that God has given us?
Note that Jesus invites us into rest, but it is a learned process. “Take my yoke…and learn from me.” Rest is a practice developed. Create rest times in your home schedule. Make the meal table a place of rest and date night a welcome invitation to rest. Block a day out on your calendar for nothingness to happen.
Rest yourself. When the snow comes down, refuse to shovel the driveway for 2 extra hours, to hold your mug of coffee in your hand and praise the Creator for His wonder instead.
What if the phone rings, what if life happens? I don’t know. But you do. God whispers in our hearts with His Spirit when we need some rest. He tells us in our hearts and in our marriages. He offers us rest-oration in these moments, put into practice. Certainly His cross gives us all the rest we need, but in these verses, Jesus shows us that, like He always does, He offers us more. He offers us His cross, and His rest, daily.
I pray for you in this winter season, that you find His rest again… and in it, ministry restoration, family restoration, and Newness of Life for all the seasons to come.
How do you find rest and peace in the middle of a busy pre-Christmas season?