October 22 Devotion

  “Come to me, all you who are weary of struggling and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Put on my yoke; Learn from me (I am gentle and humble); and you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

     What’s tough for you right now? Tuesday started out tough for me:  waiting for word from my Dad about the results of his mid-morning CT scan specifically searching for masses in the chest or lung area.  Along with everything Covid, everything political, the everyday empty church parking lot (a symbol missed conversations, connections and care), along with all those tough things, I was waiting to hear from my parents.  The Doctor promised to call Dad with results by 2 PM Tuesday.  Dad said, “When the doctor called at 2:05 PM, I could tell by the sound of his voice it was good news before he said a word about the scan.”

     When I heard the news, I was amazed how much lighter I felt.  It was still snowing.  Covid-19 was still spreading.  The church parking lot was still empty. The politics of the day were still uber-mean and often ridiculous. Still, I felt lighter. A load had been lifted for my parents.

     Today, 10/22/2020, I listened to a CBS interview with a nurse in one of five Covid-19 units in a Milwaukee hospital, in a city where they’ve set up tent hospitals to face the rising winter tide of Covid-19.  Nurse Ashley Bonus is young–but has type I diabetes and is 17 weeks pregnant.  Ashley works in the critical care unit with the most critical patients.  She said it was a hard choice to decide if she wished to continue in the Covid-19 ICU. She spoke in terms of war and battle—with a smile of all things. “You have to figure out what you are fighting for and keep it at the forefront.  This community, these patients, their families are who I am fighting for.”  “The emotional support and camaraderie in this unit is my strength.”  Like most nurses Ashley has a deep calling.

     None of us knows how this Covid-19 pandemic will unfold or when it will end.  I felt much lighter, however, after listening to Nurse Ashley.  She reminded of something critical, “figure out what you’re fighting for and keep it at the forefront.”

     At the end of the day Ashley is not ranting on Facebook.  She’s not encouraging distrust of other Americans.  She’s not chasing conspiracy theories.  She’s not finding ways to skew numbers or skewer those who disagree with her.  She is fighting the good fight for the sake of “community, patients and their families.”  She is fighting to bring healing, blessing, and caring to the world.

     What brings us down?  It is usually the things that lead us to neglect community, to dismiss people or belittle human needs.  Rants, mistrust, arguments, focusing on ourselves—those things burden us.  They are like spiritual cancers.

     Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary of struggling and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Put on my yoke; Learn from me (I am gentle and humble); and you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

     Ashley says, “Figure out what is worth (it)…and keep it at the forefront.” (Then she lists community, the needs of others and building camaraderie.) 

     Today, I invite us to name what is tough…remembering Jesus wants to lighten our burdens and offer a lighter way to live life.  There are a lot of tough things right now.  Jesus knows that, and cares deeply about the heavy loads you and I are carrying.  Accept that gracious care and be patient with yourself.

Today, I invite us to remember the most delightful feelings in the world are:   1) helping another along the way;   2) celebrating others’ good news;  3) caring for a person when they most need someone at their side.   In the end, those are things we will never regret.  We will “rest easy” for being like Jesus, “gentle and humble.”     

Blessings, Pastor Roger