I went to Sunday School, as a little girl, at my small town’s local Baptist Church. I learned and sang about God, in a little girl’s way; innocent and delighted at the stories of a wonderful Man named Jesus. As a teenager I attended that same Baptist Church, now as an “adult.” I was attentive, for the most part, though I have to admit my eyelids sometimes got heavy during some of the longer sermons. I still remember the words of Matthew 11:28, (KJV), painted high on the wall next to the pulpit: “Come unto Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Those words are still emblazoned on my heart and mind, even all these many years later.
I was baptized with my sister, Pamela, in that same Baptist Church, when I was 16 and we hugged and cried and laughed as we arose, soaked and dripping out of the water. There was a game we had played, in preparation for our baptism, meant to give us a taste of Jesus-like behavior. There were four of us playing and several pieces of randomly shaped paper were given to each of us. Ultimately, they were meant to be configured into four squares. By the rules of the game, however, we were not to look for pieces of the puzzle to create our own squares, rather we were to take our pieces and see who might benefit from them in making their squares.
We laughed as we bumped hands in our enthusiasm to help each other out. Finally, four squares were created and we felt heady with the pleasure of helping one another. A simple game really, but it had a profound effect on me and I remember the day we played, as clearly as I remember yesterday.
My life took me in many directions after those days of sweet innocence; at times fun and adventurous, or creative and dream-like. There were exciting times of learning and sharing my talents. And also there was the abuse I lived through, dark days of hopelessness and despair and pervasive depression.
As this saying goes, “as the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” my early days in church gave me a foundation to stand on. Stories of Jesus gave me strength and hope to get through the difficult times, and my baptismal experience kept me clean inside when all around me were the muddy waters of life. And I cannot forget the times of joy as in giving birth to and raising my two boys.
My life is fairly peaceful now and I have known much joy. And I’ll never forget the loving words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, (NIV): “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Have you ever heard of the “trust” exercise, where a person is encouraged to close their eyes and fall backwards, while trusting their group to catch them before they hit the ground? Whether I was being beaten, or during more peaceful times of my life, when things sometimes became emotionally tiring, and even during times of joy, I have always felt like I could safely fall backwards into our Savior Jesus’ arms and take His yoke upon me. For it is easy and His burden is light, and I can always find rest for my soul.
God bless you all!