Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
• I have always loved the water. When I was in elementary school, my family lived in a small town in southern Virginia. The Blue Ridge mountains were practically our backyard; the dentist office just down the street, and an ice cream stand just around the corner from that. There was even a field just up the hill where my family could hike and explore together. Dad and I would travel to a nearby lake and stop at this tiny gas station on the way to pick up worms for our bait. We would fish there for hours and usually never catch a thing. But it was just the water that I loved to be around; it didn’t matter how many fish we caught, the lake was my happy place.
Water has always soothed my soul. It speaks to me in a language that no one else understands; instead of words, it whispers melodies of rippling waves mixed with the tenderness of a violin, like slow dancing in a room infused with honeysuckle and a gentle mist. I can always quickly access the sound of the water in my mind, listening as it eases it’s way into the crevices between every stone in the riverbed, maneuvering in and out of each crag in its path. It is almost as if the water is smoothing out the hard places in my heart and filing down every callous, slowly, gently, quietly.
Life has always just been more serene by the water. In middle school my family moved to a small city, but I still managed to find my peaceful place. Hiking trails surrounded my neighborhood and spread throughout this new town, and I discovered a little river that flowed into a dam deep into the woods off of the trail. Often times I would spend an extra 30 minutes walking to school just so that I could sneak up to the water’s edge. I would sit on a boulder and watch the snakes and butterflies dance, dipping my feet into the cool rushing stream, and letting my dreams run wild.
Although now I live in the suburbs of DC, I’m still attracted to water more than anything else that the city has to offer. It calls to me, beckons me to come closer, much like Jesus draws me in to sit in His presence.
Jesus calls the laborers and the ones with heavy burdens to come and find rest at His feet. He calls us to himself, to unashamedly surrender our weakness and our shame, because in His arms we will find rest. God knows that we are prone to striving to fill our own needs. He watches as we spend day after day hustling to get things done, to love our neighbors, build relationships, change the world. But He wants us to remember that we need Him. He wants us to come to Him to find the refreshment that our souls so deeply crave.
I’ve come to realize that in all my striving to be accessible and useful to everyone around me, somewhere along the lines, I stopped sitting by the water. Somehow I looked to everyone else for peace. I tried finding it in the skyline of the city, in the sound of the metro trains and honking cars, even tried looking for it in neighborhoods where children giggle and dribble basketballs in the street. In my striving to find value and love and acceptance, I instead found fatigue, loneliness, and disappointment. I lost all sight of my peaceful place, and could barely manage to stand up, let alone walk forward in any direction. And what direction would I go? I was lost! Jesus was hidden behind a mountain of lies and exhaustion, and I felt too ashamed to even start on the journey to find His feet again.
But thankfully, in the brokenness and sin that paralyzed me, Jesus came — He brought the water right to my doorstep. When I needed His peace, He knew exactly how to pry the door open and let the flood of cool water rush into my soul again.
Once, I wandered away from His shore. But never again will I look to any other source for the peace and rest that His presence brings. I have found my peaceful place here, by the lake, and I will return to the water’s edge each and every morning.