“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
~ Jesus, Matthew 11:28
“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
~ Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life
Come straight from your bed with your morning breath and your sweatpants. Come with your crazy-hair and your unwashed face and last night’s dishes still sitting out on the counter.
Come as soon as the alarm goes off, or after three or four smacks at the Snooze button.
Or maybe morning’s not your thing, but you keep trying to muster yourself up to it because once someone told you that this was the best way. That morning is the best time, that you need to start your day right, with God.
(I want to tell you that there is no best time. There is you – your particular, individual heart – and there is God, his love like a deep-flowing river. And it doesn’t matter when you step into the river, love. All that matters is that you come.)
Come with your mind skittering a thousand different directions. Come with your insurmountable to-do list, and don’t feel a bit guilty when you keep drifting back to the day’s demands. Just notice it, and then make your way back to the quiet.
There will be so many trips back and forth while you’re here…from worry to planning to prayer and then back around again. That’s just part of it.
And maybe you don’t know that. Maybe you’ve heard a hundred sermons about that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus prayed deep and long, and his disciples fell asleep. You know that verse by heart, where he says “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” and the one that says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Here’s what I think about all that: this was never meant as a call to do better, to be better, to come perfect and focused and spiritually “strong”. I think Jesus was simply telling us the truth about ourselves, here in the midnight garden – that thing that we who can handle it all (who don’t need help, thank-you-very-much, who will do it all by ourselves even if it kills us) never truly believe: You are weak. You are weary. It’s okay. I am enough.)
Maybe all this time, you’ve been trying to come perfect, you’ve been trying to come wide-awake when you’re exhausted. Maybe you’ve been trying to work up the faith when your heart is sunk deep in doubt. You don’t have to hustle for approval here. Come weary. Come beloved.
Come reluctantly or expectantly. Come half-asleep or half-alive or broken into ten thousand pieces.
Stare blankly into your fluorescent sunlamp in the cold, dark morning and say nothing. Or say everything – rant and rave and whine and cry and bare it all – your whole fearful, jealous, angry heart. Both of these things are a kind of prayer, and neither is better or more honest than the other.
Swear if you need to. Say the truth you need to say even if the words sound unholy, unacceptable. There is the time when the four-letter-word is the right word, and God can handle your impolite, your wildness, your temper tantrums, your tears.
Come with a heart stone-cold in its silence. Come bitter. Come distant.
Read the Bible, or don’t. Write it out in a lined journal, or don’t. Read a bit of liturgy and feel yourself connected to a thousand other broken pieces of humanity, all trying to figure it out.
(Or don’t. There is no right way to come. There is only the honesty of showing up entirely yourself in the place you are now.)
Maybe you won’t feel anything. Just the winter dark pressing in and the cold seeping in under the patio door and a weary dread for the mundane tasks of another day. Another week. Another year.
Come even if you’re not one bit sure about this God business at all. Start here, with these open arms, the ones that are welcoming the weary. Start with a God who invites the imperfect: the mad-at-their-kids. The pissed-at-their-bosses. The one who sits in traffic, feeling a rage she cannot understand. The one who can’t stop crying. The one who’s full to the brim with happiness.
Start with Jesus, who welcomes the overwhelmed. The under-awed. The hopeful. The hopeless.
He is looking at you who don’t have one scrap of it together, and there’s not a how-to or a best-practices — just Him. Just you. Just the river.
Just one word, Come.
The first step. Really, the only step. The one you keep taking every weary, heavy-laden, joyous, hopeful, normal, average, dish-filled, noisy day of your life.