I remember folding diapers one day when Lucas was 2 and Nathan just a few weeks old. I had not had a full night’s sleep in the three or four weeks since Nathan’s birth—an emergency C-section, which while routine, was still major surgery. The garden was at its height, and laundry was a daily chore along with the usual cooking and cleaning.
During Nathan’s morning nap I gave Lucas as much attention as possible. We were learning the alphabet, going through magazines to find pictures of things beginning with that week’s letter, practicing how to draw it, and finding it among the words of the book I read to him that day. Our daily Bible lesson included a song I had composed if no ready-made one came to mind, and a dramatic re-creation, either by us or handy stuffed animals which assumed new identities at his command.
Lest anyone think Keith was not doing his share, he was preaching part-time as well as holding down two other part-time jobs and finishing up a degree at the university 20 miles down the road. Then he came home and became Goliath or the “big fish” or whatever large character he needed to be as Lucas recounted his Bible lesson to Daddy. He always gave Lucas his evening bath and watched Nathan while I cleaned up supper dishes. After the babies were in bed, he studied.
On that particular day I was making those intricate folds of bleached white cotton robotically. Nathan was cooing and gurgling on a blanket in the floor, and Lucas was lining up his assorted toy cars and trucks on the other end of the sofa from my stack of diapers. A wave of weariness hit with such force that I leaned my head over on the sofa arm for a second’s rest.
Ten minutes later I woke up to little grunts from Nathan. This meant I had approximately fifteen seconds to start nursing him before a full-blown howl erupted from that deceptively small set of lungs. What amazed me, though, was that Lucas was in the middle of running a fire engine up my arm and parking it next to my head. Was this what woke me? Obviously not, for there were already five other vehicles parked by my nose. It was my baby’s impending distress that woke me from such a deep slumber, not the arm traffic.
That was not the only time exhaustion struck so strongly. Young mothers, I believe, live in a perpetual state of weariness, at least the ones who understand their God-given duties and try to fulfill them. There have been nights when falling into bed and relaxing actually hurt for a few seconds.
There are other things that make me weary, not in body but in spirit. A relative’s foolish words or actions can cause hurt and turmoil throughout the family. Two supposedly mature brothers or sisters in the Lord who behave like three year olds; an argument over scripture that is punctuated not by “This is what the scriptures say,” but rather, “This is what I think, this is what I feel about it, this is what I am comfortable with;” people who take your much prayed about words and actions in the worst possible light, making petty comments that pierce your heart, and spreading their thoughts to others, who then bring them back to you. Then there is the evening news. These things make you throw up your hands in defeat and say along with the apostle John, “Lord, come quickly.”
Rest—if there is anything about Heaven I look forward to more than anything else, it is rest—rest to my soul.
God had promised his people rest when he took them out of Egypt. All they had to do was trust him and obey him, but despite the great signs and wonders done before their eyes, they could not manage that. So God said, As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest, Heb 4:3. They did enter Canaan, but they did not enter The Rest. They had troubles constantly, from within and without, simply because they did not have the faith it took to obey God. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 4:9, a rest like God’s rest. The Hebrew writer is careful that we understand the difference. God did not rest because he was tired; he rested because he had finished his work, 4:4.
And we have that promise. If we can get past the times that cause us to throw up our hands and shake our heads, the people who make our burdens heavier instead of lighter; if we can manage to stay strong and finish the course, we can rest too. Oh, what a wonderful promise!
For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For he who has entered into his own rest has himself also rested from his work as God did from his. Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no one fall after the same example of disobedience, Heb 4:8-11.