My heart nearly lept out of my chest with excitement. And yet the lump in my throat was hard to swallow. I was paralyzed with delightful dread at the thought of a personal invitation from Jesus.
“What kind of an invitation?” I asked. Again, still wondering who the prankster was on the other end of the phone. Yet this made sense of the surreal surroundings. The strange hue of sunlight creating a sunrise-twilight effect in my room. The cloudy haze making the world around me seem somehow clearer. Whether I was dreaming or not it did not matter. Whatever realm of consciousness I was inhabiting in that moment, it had me in a very real conversation with the Jesus I have known for so long. And I was going to give Him my full attention.
“Jeremy, are you tired? Worn out? Burned out?”
“Lord, you know that I am exhausted. You know that I have been running on fumes for months. I keep desiring a rest, a vacation, an escape from it all but I can’t find the time. Or, I do take a few days off or a weekend away but my worries and responsibilities follow me there. I feel trapped in a rat maze, largely of my own making.”
“I know, Jeremy. I know all too well,” Jesus said. “I know your thoughts. I share your pain. I am always with you, you know. Even when you forget and think you’re pushing the heavy boulder up the hill by yourself. You’re not, I’m with you always. I will never leave nor forsake you.”
He spoke the scriptures! He quoted himself! The words I had read countless times in my personal devotions, examined in Bible Studies, preached in sermons and written about in seminary term papers, now took on new life as they came directly from his lips, entered my ears and flooded every dry and thirsty part of my soul.
“Jeremy, what are you doing this weekend? Do you have plans?”
“Ah, well, as you know,” I hesitated, “I kind of have a standing Sunday morning commitment that tends to limit my weekend options.”
Jesus laughed again, and said, “Jeremy, don’t worry about Sunday worship, I can cover for you!”
This time I did manage a chuckle and smile.
“I want you to join me at my Father’s cabin for the weekend,” Jesus insisted. “Get away with me this weekend and I promise you’ll recover your life.”
“But what about Sunday?” I remarked. “I thought you were going to cover for me.”
“I think you are forgetting who you’re talking to. I can be more than one place at a time.”
My mind began to contemplate this completely insane invitation! I wonder what on earth a person does at Jesus’ summer lake cabin!? And where on earth, or in heaven, would the cabin be?
Hearing my thoughts, Jesus replied with his full invitation. “Jeremy, I’m going to show you how to take a real rest. You’re going to walk with me and work with me. You’re going to watch how I do life. I’m going to teach you the unforced rhythms of grace, Jeremy! Spend the weekend with me at my cabin and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. How does that sound?”
The most precious people in our lives are those who know our deepest needs more than we even know ourselves. They are able to pierce through all the layers of our posturing and posing, see behind our masks we wear to hide our true selves. They sit us down for coffee and mix us a delicious blend of grace and truth. They ask the hard question. They raise the awkward topic. They point out the elephant in the room. They hold up the mirror. They “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
Jesus’ invitation tenderly addressed every deep longing of my tired soul. Get away. Each carefully chosen word and phrase was like the dab of a cold washcloth on a fevered forehead, or the joyfilled lick of a popsicle on a hot summer day. Take a real rest. Unforced rhythms of grace. Live freely and lightly. It was irresistible invitation.
In that moment, my defenses fell, the dam of my emotions burst, all my hidden and covered weariness came pouring out as I broke down in tears at the beauty of his invitation.
“So, what do you say?” Jesus asked. “Will you come with me?”
Through my grateful sobs on the other end of the phone, I managed a simple, “Yes, that’s just what I need.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message).
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me” (Psalm 139:1).
PERSONAL REFLECTION: If you did a personal inventory right now, how is your life? Are you filled up and on fire? Are you tired and weary? Are you worried and anxious? If you could put your deepest needs and longings right now into words, what would it be? If Jesus read your mind and offered you an invitation that addressed just what you need, what would that invitation be? Will you accept Jesus’ invitation to get away with him to do some soul searching?
PRAYER: Jesus, you know me better than I know myself, and you know my needs more than I do. You know which wounds need heaing, which emptiness need filling, which secrets need to be revealed, which sins need to be confessed, which fears need to be overcome, and which changes need to be made in my life. I am accepting your invitation to get away with you. I am open to your loving correction and grace-filled counsel in my life. Amen.