First, when I confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord, I imagined life’s circumstances would immediately get better, broken things, sick people. I imagined that my salvation came with 3 wishes. It did not.

When I was filled with the Holy Spirit I imagined I would have no desire to sin again. I imagined the ugly and dark parts of me would die and stay dead, and my new life would be exemplary and temptation wouldn’t feel like war. I imagined frustration and disappointment and anger would just wash away forever. It did not.

When I was called to ministry I heard that if I sought the kingdom, everything else would be added. I took this to mean everything I wanted, stability, a home, a wife, a family, opportunity to display my talents. I imagined the trajectory of life would just be multiplication; ministry would grow, family would grow, finances would grow. I cannot say for sure that this did not happen, but if I looked at it through the lens of what I wanted in the way I wanted, then it too did not.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

“Take this yoke upon you and I will give you rest for your souls. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

Jesus was not wrong. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. Jesus has asked for our relationship, our friendship, for us to accept his Lordship because His partnership is easy compared to the way the systems of the world and religion without love operate. I find this to be true and right. I would be lost without Him. I would not move without Him. I would not breathe without Him. I would not be without Him. And according to the promise of His Word and Spirit, I am not without Him.

And that should be enough.

But the way is hard. This staggered path with the shortcuts I’ve tried to take. The seasons of soaking in sin and sadness rather than embracing my sanctification. There have been some good seasons too, distributed among the hard. The radical steps of faith, the opportunity to preach and teach, to have fun and do ministry with friends. There have been gifts given; there have been good things taken away, there have been bad things I hoped were good taken away. And with it has come pain, hardship, suffering, perhaps self-inflicted, but pain nonetheless.

Had we been given a clearer map we would have avoided it. Perhaps we have been given a map. Had it not been so long and hard to read. Had there not been so many distractions and so much opportunity to do damage. Had this wound not stayed so tender.

Had I not been a feeler, an empath, had the little things not felt difficult, had I not felt like I have to be my loudest supporter and felt like I must work up the courage and energy to give myself encouragement. Others seem to self-motivate so easily, to self-start without question. What if I or we have not been wired that way? Then what? We must rest in our failure?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I’m thankful that Jesus’ invitation is unchanging. When the way becomes hard and quite frankly even when it is not, His desire is for our rest. It need not be hard to have a relationship with one who is Love.

But I make it difficult.

I have been reflecting again (when do I stop?) on this season. Last year, at this time I was working in the hospital and received news that my grandma was in the hospital with congestive heart failure, scheduled to return to her assisted living on hospice care.

This year, I don’t work in the hospital. I don’t have a break from work. We are still asked to show up to a project that is very slow. I’m grateful to show up to work because otherwise I would be feeling awful sitting at home alone day in and day out.

Should I have left Charleston? Should I have continued on in interviewing as a night shift chaplain at a children’s hospital? Maybe there was a reason that the campus ministry job at Princeton didn’t work out after all. I should accept these things and be okay with the way they have turned out for now. I keep looking for certainty of the purpose and for some semblance of control.

Yet, there is uncertainty where I will be a few weeks from now, where any of us could be a few weeks from now. I had been looking forward to the end of this season of long hours and isolation that I felt I chose back in October, but collectively we are asked to be separate for an extended time. I am nervous for my dad who has a weak immune system and whom I cannot see.  I don’t love it.

The yoke is easy; the way is hard. This is the way. Jesus is the Way, walk in Him with Him for Him through Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

*Author’s Note: I only want to offer commentary on the photo I have included. In 2012 I purchased this art piece called Shine inspired by the Collective Soul song. The photo of this piece of art was on a blog of my favorite blogger Heather Kopp. I took this picture and can’t remember if I still own the piece or got rid of it.

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