This week I received a long overdue massage, a 90 minute one in fact! Myriad stresses have done their toll on my body, so I practically apologized to my therapist knowing he was sure to find my muscles a mess. I had prepared mentally for the massage all day – cleaning my mind to enter into as close to relaxation as I could, focusing on the stress and knots of my muscles being released as I planned to control my breathing. In……out…….easy…….feel the stress being released…….clear all thoughts but the feeling of my therapist’s hands press out the tension from my body.
Focus. Relax. Breathe. Repeat.
It was about 45 minutes into this process, and I was feeling pretty good I might add, a thought hit me. It seemed to come out of nowhere. The thought was loosely based on the following verses:
Matt 11:28-30 ESV “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When I get a massage, I do not focus on the knots, the aches and pains, nor the stress that has wound me up. No. I focus instead on relaxing. On the releasing power the therapist’s hands and the impact they have on my body. The feeling of the cleansing breaths that I take, the feeling of the air exiting my lungs as I envisions every cell of my body getting loose and relaxed. Of how healthy I feel. How strong I am in the relaxed state. Of how slowly my heart is beating as the blood begins to flow at a more effective rate throughout my body. And as I realized that, I also realized that maybe God doesn’t want us to be these uptight followers that focus only on “being this” or “doing that”, but instead “resting in Him”!
I think we Christians focus way too much on creating a mechanism of our own efforts to make ourselves holy. We go to church multiple times a week. We present ourselves in such a way that we cannot be pointed at as sinners. In fact, we separate ourselves from “sinners”, maybe avoid places like movie theaters or bars, and then we decide at some point that we are suddenly holy. Or maybe we never feel holy and then get sad or mad or frustrated. Maybe we get a little arrogant or self-righteous. But through it all, the efforts are all ours. I am NOT saying any of the efforts are bad – hear me – I just think perhaps they are the wrong things to focus on.
Instead, I think Jesus was trying to explain a few things. I don’t know, I mean He said He fulfilled the law and covered our sins and, because of that, we are saved. He said above that His yolk is EASY, His burden is LIGHT. We get so busy trying to be what we think we need to be to seem acceptable to Him (or maybe the others struggling within our churches, let’s be real), that we forget to even SIT next to Jesus, let alone REST in Him! And, as the massage and this idea rumbled quietly in my head I realized that this Truth is bigger than I anticipated. We don’t necessarily always need to DO anything! Sometimes we just need to rest, and when we do we actually LEARN from Jesus.
And, when that lightbulb turned on, I thought of the last 4 visits/days I had with my Mom. Usually I am the project manager in all things; I talk to doctors, I get nurses to care for her better/faster/more diligently, I update family members and buy groceries and arrange for this and for that and whatever. I was a bit irked with myself the last 4 visits though, because I was out of character and just stood or sat right next to my mom. I didn’t really get ANYTHING done. I didn’t even work remotely on my computer. I felt WEIRD and I felt unproductive. I almost felt worthless. My character was so out of place. And yet, those 4 days with my mom I will cherish FOREVER. I said more to her in those days than I have in years. I learned tidbits I had never heard before. And I told her the most important things I could about how I felt for her. When I just rested beside her, everything fell into place. And now, weeks later, I know I will never have that time again, and it makes it all the more powerful to realize…….thank GOD I was out of character! Action and doing are not the devil, by any means, but they are not a deity either that needs to be adored. Take time to rest in Jesus, and to rest with those you love. And maybe even rest when getting a 90 minute massage. The Lord said it, not me! 🙂