Often when we’re tired and burdened, Jesus shows up in unusual ways, inviting us to find rest in him in the midst of difficult circumstances. Keep reading to learn How to Find Rest in Difficult Circumstances.
Have you ever found yourself so weary and tired because of a relationship issue, where there didn’t seem to be any attractive options to deal with that issue? I bet you have.
Today’s episode is about a time I was in this situation, where I just wanted to find rest from a nagging concern and not deal with it. I eventually learned, in a most unusual way, a surprising relationship solution to my relationship problem.
I know what I learned could help you, too. It starts here.
A summer job
In last week’s episode, no. 110, Relationships We Didn’t Choose, I mentioned the summer job my guidance counselor found for me after I graduated from high school. It was a factory job at a small manufacturing company that made folding tables for school cafeterias. Recently I checked online and discovered they’re still in business. I thought of stopping in to say, “Hi,” but then realized anyone I had worked with would have been dead for decades by now.
I was so fortunate that Mrs. Roller told me about this job. It paid well, over $2.00 an hour, double what I earned in my after-school restaurant job. I got to learn a variety of things, like running a punch press, spot welding, and working a drill press. None of the jobs were terribly hard, but being in a factory, it was hot, and it made me sweat a lot. I also worked there during Christmas break from college, because they need help counting all their inventory of parts by the end of the year.
The good people I worked with
The men I worked with were all very nice. There was Harlow, the manager, a kind man with a mid-century crew cut, who ran the place. Gil, the foreman who always wore bib overalls, and who spent most of his day fixing machines that broke. Adam, the man who taught me how to use the punch press, and who told me, “If when you’re done with college that teaching thing doesn’t work out, you’ll have this to fall back on… as long as you don’t get your hands stuck in the punch press.”
Then there was Carl, who was from Lithuania and walked with a slight limp and spoke with a thick European accent. Another guy with an even thicker accent, who could barely speak English, was Fritz. He was from Germany. Rumor had it he was a German soldier during WWII whose job it was to drive a Nazi officer around in a two-person motorcycle. This could explain why he and Carl from Lithuania never spoke to each other.
Finally, there was Eddie, an older single guy with a limp four times worse than Carl’s. He appeared to have been a stroke victim because he had to use one of his arms to move the other. I admired all the things he could do in spite of his handicap.
These were the people I worked with. They accepted me as one of their own, even though we were so different. They had more history than future; I had more future than history.
A scene I remember to this day
One scene in particular from this factory job the summer of my 19th year comes to my mind every now and then. It happened on a late Saturday afternoon at the end of a 53-hour-work-week. We had all been putting in a lot of hours, and I was grateful for the 13 hours of overtime pay. It was going to be a big help in paying for my college tuition for the upcoming fall semester of my sophomore year.
I got to work in those days using the city bus. To return to my home in the suburbs I had to take 2 different bus routes. This particular Saturday afternoon I got onto the second bus exhausted, hot, and sweaty from my factory job. I dragged my body to the rear of the nearly empty bus, and sat down on one of two bench seats, perpendicular to the rest of the forward-facing seats.
I then stared out the window directly across from me and noticed the ads placed along the top of all the windows. They were about 3 feet wide by 18 inches tall. One of the ads in particular caught my eye. It was stuck between two other ads, for things like Chesterfield cigarettes and Cutty Sark whiskey.
An ad from the Lutherans
The eye-catching ad for me was from the Lutheran Church, displaying a picture of Jesus and the words from Matthew 11:28-30 in the Bible.
“Come to me, all of 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.”
Hmm. That’s me, I thought. I’m weary and I’m carrying a heavy burden. I was so tired from all the hours of heat and sweat from my summer job. And now I was heading home, a place where I did not want to be because of the strife and tension there. But as much as I liked my co-workers, I didn’t want to be at work either. So I kept staring at that ad, reading the words from Jesus several times.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus said, “Come to me”
Maybe these Lutherans were on to something. Maybe I should follow their advice from their ad, and the Bible, to come to Jesus. I didn’t exactly know how to do that. Just a few months earlier I had become a Christ-follower at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting. So I had already come to Him. But many things about Jesus were all so new to me. There was so much I didn’t understand.
Nevertheless, I found a strange sense of peace from that Bible verse the Lutherans advertised. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” What I learned that afternoon at the back of the bus was the rest I so deeply wanted is found in a person, not a place.
I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked, but I found comfort in the word choice from the Bible verse the Lutherans shared in their bus ad.
Weary. Rest was mentioned twice. Learn from me. Gentle. Humble in Heart. An easy yoke. A light burden.
I like these words, don’t you? They calmed my spirit. They gave me hope that my relationship with Jesus would help me manage my physically tiring factory job, and at the same time He would help me to emotionally cope with the tension in my home I was heading to.
I learned that when I focus on my relationship with Jesus it makes the burdens I’m carrying much lighter. It doesn’t make the problems go away, but it puts them in perspective. I see the burdens for what they are: a temporary blip in light of eternity. My summer job eventually came to an end. And in forgiving my parents for their lack of skill in raising me, I developed compassion for them and the burdens THEY were carrying.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
I wonder what relational burdens you are carrying that are making life weary for you? Where there are no easy answers. Where there’s nowhere to go for you to find rest.
Regardless of your circumstances, coming to a relationship with Jesus certainly helps. His gentleness stands in sharp contrast to the strident nature of the times in which we live.
Like the contrast I saw in those city bus ads so long ago. The Lutheran ad for Jesus in the middle of a cigarette ad on one side, and an ad for whisky on the other. There’s something quite appealing and comforting about someone calling us to himself to find rest, who describes himself as gentle and humble.
The main point of today’s episode
I’ll leave you with this final thought:
When we’re tired, weary, and burdened, Jesus will sometimes do unusual things, like pacing an ad inside a city bus, inviting us to find rest in him, rest for our souls. For when our souls are at rest, the weight of the burdens we carry eases.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john [at] caringforothers [dot] org. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
In closing, if you found the podcast helpful, please subscribe if you haven’t already done so.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act by entering into a relationship with Jesus to find the rest you need. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Goodbye for now.
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