In Northern Virginia where I live, August is known as the month of dreadful, oppressive heat and humidity. But while I can handle more pool days, I don’t handle nearly as well the hectic Back-to-School schedule that also accompanies this month in my state.
Thankfully, my daughter’s school has provided parents a list of school supplies she will need for the First Grade. With the list in tow, and a promise of a new Barbie, my daughter and I drove to one our favorite destinations, Target.
To all the mothers out there who did not do what I did, do yourself a favor and look at the list before you go shopping so you will not be shocked like I was.
PVC and Latex Free erasers? I had no idea there are such things.
Dice? Playing cards? I thought that kind of stuff was illegal in schools.
The list says 12 thick markers, but I can only find them in packs of 10!
My daughter couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t buy her the cute Hello Kitty pencil pouch. But the list specifically states that the two pencil pouches required have to be meshed material. The Hello Kitty pouch was not meshed, creating much disappointment. I found myself praising God over yellow, plastic folders. According to my Facebook newsfeed yellow folders are practically mythical creatures during this Back-to-School season.
And in the middle of the school supply aisle in Target, life caught up with me, and I suddenly felt like a deer caught in the headlights.
Mercifully, we were able to complete the list after I came out of my stupor. We headed home with three packed bags of supplies and the promised Barbie. As I was unloading the supplies and organizing them to give to my daughter’s teacher on Back-to-School Night, her little voice caught me by surprise, “Mom, I am worried about how much homework I will have this year.”
The email dings, and it is from my school. The university I attend is informing me that my 300-level Medieval Literature class I am taking this fall is now a high-400 level class. Me too little one, me too.
This morning, as I was compiling the calendar of events for the school year, both my daughter’s and my own, I heard Jesus softly whisper to me, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”
“Come to me all 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.” (Matthew 28:11, English Standard Version.)
I love how Jesus used my iCalendar this morning to make a divine appointment with me. This morning out of obedience to his whisper, I went to him with my burdened and overbooked heart. I did indeed find peace.
I note that even in the midst of his own ministry and his own daily burdens, Jesus went away to his father for rest and renewal through prayer and worship. Even if you aren’t preparing a child to go back to school or yourself to go back personally, the Good News of Jesus allows us to go to him no matter what burden we are carrying.
As Jesus would leave the needs of his people to be renewed by God, we too need to go away to quiet places where we can find Jesus. We need to be renewed so that when we return, we are refreshed for whatever happens next. Jesus found rest in unusual circumstances. Even while a boat rocked violently in a storm, Jesus slept and renewed himself to rebuke that storm when his disciples called out for help.
The Gospel enables us to be refreshed through Jesus so that we can then refresh our families and those we are walking alongside of. Stepping away from our busy schedules like I did can be one way to find rest in him. We do not need to go to a Jamaican beach to find rest for our souls; we only need to seek him quietly no matter how loud our To Do lists are.
When Jesus died on the cross and the curtain guarding the entrance to the Holy of Holies tore in two, it tore for the purpose of us having access to God wherever we are. Because of the Gospel, we are able to go to him as much as we need, whenever we want, wherever we are, and whatever burden we carry. For we are in him, and he is in us.
By Stefanie Kammerman