Casting our cares on Jesus
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
These are the lovely, encouraging words of Jesus (from Matthew 11:28-30) which Phil spoke about in this morning’s service. When we are burdened by many things, especially in time of crisis like the present, we are invited to entrust ourselves to Jesus who promises peace, and rest. Jesus is ‘gentle and humble in heart’ and knowing the presence of his Spirit of Love following him will be a joy, rather than a burden.
I think all of us as Christians know something of entrusting ourselves to Jesus, and sensing ourselves upheld and accompanied as we seek to live for Jesus. And the other Bible verses we heard during the service remind us that we follow in the footsteps of many who have found God present in crisis.
Earlier, I posted on the church Facebook page a reflection on Psalm 28 by poet and priest Malcolm Guite.
His poem begins:
To dare each moment’s death, that I might live
Means both repentence and a plenitude
Of grace. Means letting go to let him give
This reminds us that entrusting ourselves to Jesus is both costly (each saying ‘no’ to prompts and impulses which do not spring from love is a little death) and perpetual – a moment-by-moment joining in with the ‘Yes!’ of the universe, ‘Yes!’ to the Creator, ‘Yes!’ to Love. These moment by moment deaths call for repentance, says Guite, but they are met by God with ‘a plenitude of grace.’ And the call is to let go, that we might let him give.
But what about the times when we try to cast our cares upon the Lord, and there seems to be only silence, and the pressing, soul-draining pain remains, and our trouble is always before us. And what about the times when following Jesus seems simply too, too hard and we are on the point of abandoning our faith altogether? Are we simply deluding ourselves when we repeat these words of Jesus?
I think many of us have experienced such time of abandonment, spiritual aridity and pain. There may be reasons which we can dimly discern – illness, depression, hopelessness, a series of personal disasters, or perhaps some inner rebellion against love – but there may be no discernible reason for our sense of God’s absence.
Jesus words encourage us to hold on in naked belief that the one who went through the valley of the shadow for us accompanies us through our valleys of the shadow. And so we say ‘I believe! I will not doubt in the shadow what I saw so clearly in the light.’
As we look around us as Christians, we see people who are all learning the casting of cares upon Jesus, the moment-by-moment entrusting of ourselves to him. We are all learners, we are all at times struggling, and we are called as representatives of Jesus, to ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ (Galatians 6:2)
I’ve been real about the struggles we sometimes have, because it’s good to honestly acknowledge these struggles. But we come back to Jesus wonderful promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” These words will bring joy and release to many today. What is burdening your heart or your mind today? What things have left you feeling worn down and low so that you find it hard to face? Does life seem a meaningless struggle?
Jesus, who embodies the Love which is God – for Love is another name for Jesus – invites us to come, to bring our burdens, our worries, our sense of meaninglessness to him. And as we say ‘Yes!’ to Jesus, ‘Yes!” to life, “Yes!’ to Love we will once again know the peace of God’s wonderful presence, the Love from which nothing can separate us.