For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to take the holy advice of my Christian friends and find rest in my Savior. It’s proven to be one of most disturbingly painful experiences of my life thus far.
A few months ago, I told the Lord that I wanted to draw closer to him. He said, “OK,” then proceeded to drag down all of my internal supports and kick me onto my face. All of my usual coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s hardships were suddenly rendered null and void. I became incapable of carrying the burdens that I normally carried. Now I struggle to pray for myself, let alone anyone else. The light of joy that had finally begun to blaze in my heart weeks before has flickered and grown dark. Most of the time when I’ve tried to explain to others what’s going on with me, they stare at me like I have three heads. The grief and humiliation has been almost beyond bearing.
If there’s a level of brokenness beyond this, I don’t want to know about it.
The few times that I have been able to pray, I have asked God to help me enter His rest. Up until recently, though, the help didn’t appear to be forthcoming. Finally, in frustration, I asked God, “Will I ever enter your rest?”
He answered, “I don’t know. Will you?”
At the time, I didn’t understand what He meant. Wasn’t my desire for His rest enough? Shouldn’t He just bring it to me? Why all the turmoil? What was left for me to do?
A lot, actually.
For those of you who grew up in church, you may recall seeing the paintings of Jesus as the Good Shepherd with a lamb around his neck. The story goes that, in ancient Israel, shepherds would break the legs of lambs who wandered away too many times from the safety of their flocks. They would then carry the lambs on their shoulders until the legs healed. In that time, shepherd and lamb would form an intimate bond in which the lamb would learn to trust the shepherd completely.
I have a terrible habit of running around and getting involved in a lot of stuff that interferes with my ability and willingness to just sit and listen to the Savior’s voice. It’s not that I run away from Jesus, it’s just that I get too far ahead of him and try to do things in my strength and timing instead of his. So when I said I wanted to draw closer to him, there was only one thing left for him to do: break my legs.
Shortly after I came to this realization, I began meditating on the 23rd Psalm. There’s that verse that says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” He makes me. I can just imagine Christ unceremoniously dumping my limp, useless self onto a patch of soft grass and saying, “Linger in this beautiful place a moment,” while I quiver and paw the ground in restless agony. It kind of puts a whole new spin on the Psalms.
But while I’ve been lying there in that patch of grass, nursing my terrible brokenness, he’s been whispering to me: This ministry I’m preparing you for – it’s not about you. It’s about me. I didn’t call you because you’re talented. I called you because you’re willing. I don’t need your talents; I just need obedience. My power is made perfect in weakness. Be still and know that I am God. Trust me. These burdens that you’re carrying are too heavy for you. You were never meant to carry them. Put them down. Leave them to me. Fear not. Just focus on me and I’ll do the rest.
He just wants to talk to me. He just wants to hear me say I love him. He just wants me to sit and listen.
Even if it’s just to hear him breathe.