February 24, 2019
Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
Rest In and With Jesus Christ
It is good to be back after my vacation during the last two weeks! I want to thank you all for keeping me in your prayers during my time out.
I believe vacation is a gift from God. It’s God’s will for us to take a break from our labors so that we can recharge our spiritual or emotional battery to sustain and strengthen our life’s journey. Even God had a Sabbath from His creation work: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Gen. 2:1-2). During his public ministry, Jesus Christ also withdrew from his followers to a remote place alone to have meditation and rest: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (M. 1:35)
Now I just came back from my two-weeks’ vacation… You probably expect that I am now full of energy for the work… Honestly, my answer is yes and no…
Problems with Vacation
How did I spend my vacation? Just like any people, I was planning to spend all of my free times only satisfying myself although keeping you in my regular devotion time. So I slept a lot, woke up very late, traveled to several places, and visited my old friends-spending long times chatting with them.
While I got to relax a little bit on vacation, I learned a lot about myself. Much of it I didn’t like… I also realized that vacation is not easy. It is a lot of work, it can be a time consuming task, and it is a costly endeavor. You always need more money than you have because of unexpected expenses, and it doesn’t go as planned.
Vacation is a hard work and even can add stress to our life. When I came back home from my trip to Boston last week, I just told myself, “Home sweet home.” And I had to lie down on my bed for two days just to recover my energy. I was looking forward to seeing you a lot, but I didn’t know how to start again for my coming back to you. Honestly, it was not easy for me to prepare this sermon for today because I was physically and emotionally exhausted from my travels. The goal of my vacation was just to relax and recharge my body and soul, so that I can show you my good looks, but because I was exhausted from my vacation, I am sorry but I felt like I need one more vacation.
What was wrong with my vacation? Why couldn’t I be satisfied with it? Vacation indicates rest, and that’s why we want to take it when we feel burdened from our daily works. But the problem is that these vacations are only temporary. We have to come back to our reality, and when we come back, rest ends and trials begin again.
The Invitation from Jesus
Although I was tired from my vacation, I couldn’t stay in my bed all day long because I knew I needed a message to share with you for this morning. So from time to time I prayed to God and kept thinking about what to say to you. However, I couldn’t stop feeling sorrow from my temporary vacation. Maybe God had pity on me as I was still hoping to take a rest. That’s probably why I heard God whisper to my heart through the words of Jesus from Matthew’s Gospel, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (v. 28).
“I will give you rest…” Yes Lord, that is what I want! … Meditating on this sweet invitation from Jesus, I came to recognize that he is now inviting me to take another vacation. So I started packing my traveling bag to go on vacation again… No, I am kidding… I didn’t go anywhere but just stayed in my room to work for my sermon, but strangely my heart was full of strength and confidence that I am now on vacation!!! How come? It is because I recognized that Jesus Christ, who is now with me in my life, is itself my vacation and rest! All I can do is to come and give my life to Him.
Friends, we are living in tiresome and burdensome times and our external pressures are going to intensify as time continues. We want to take vacation from all those heavy burdens, but no matter how further we are away, and no matter how crazy and fun the time is we spend during our vacation, we have to come back to where we live. When we come back, we may soon find ourselves struggling again with all the heavy burdens and worries we have carried on and on. In order to experience peace and rest in our daily life, it’s better to find how to rest here in our daily life.
Look, Jesus just promises us that if we come to him, we may partake of rest in him and with him. It’s not like a temporary vacation where we get to rest for limited amount of time and then have to come back to our hardship. No, this is a supernatural vacation that does not end. This is not temporary but everlasting rest in us.
We are all on a life’s journey; we are on a journey to receive a prize. Our journey is from earth to glory, and we get tired and burdened along the way. As a human being, Jesus also got tired on his earthly journey, so he took a time out to rest: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mk. 1:35) Yet, his way of Sabbath teaches us that true rest or vacation comes from our spiritual relationship with God, the source of life.
Rest In and With Jesus
Friends, now we all have come back from our long holiday seasons. Nevertheless, do we already feel tired from our routines? do we still miss our vacation? Do we want to stay away from our daily life? … If so, let us realize that we can be always on vacation wherever we live if we come to Jesus Christ our Lord, who imparts the spirit of healing, who knows all we need, who has deep mercy and compassion for his people.
May we come to him and learn to rest in His grace more and worry less. May we let Jesus teach us His way and how to find His rest. When we get so tired that we don’t think we can continue, may we find rest in Jesus Christ. Amen.